Willard wrestler comes home from the hospital after months-long battle with the flu

Published: Aug. 18, 2019 at 8:15 PM CDT
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The Willard High School student athlete who fought for his life after getting the flu is finally home. He spent nearly five months in the hospital.

Life is different now for Michael Finley, Jr.

"It's harder to do things like walk around, walk to my room, go to the bathroom, breathe harder. I don't have much stamina to do things," Michael said. "Just normal stuff that everyone takes for granted is a lot harder to do."

He's been on an difficult journey, one his mom never imagined. In March, Michael was diagnosed with the flu. Then he had a collapsed lung, pneumonia and a staph infection.

"We've seen things no parent should have to see their child go through," Kathy Finley, Michael's mom, said.

His body relied on machines to help him breathe and keep him alive. In April, Michael got a lung transplant.

"I just keep saying it, by the grace of God, we're here and we've made it," Kathy said. "There's no way that he'd still be here if God wasn't real. I mean there's just no way."

It's faith that's gotten the Finley family through.

"There's a purpose for Michael's life. There's a reason that he's gone through all this," Kathy said.

Five months of fighting. Now, Michael is home.

Michael: "I feel better, like I have more energy, eating more, getting stronger."

Getting stronger with a goal in mind.

"'Cause I want to wrestle again," Michael said.

Mike's fight is not over.

"Maybe have another try at a state championship again," he said. "It's gonna be hard but it's not impossible."

The heart of a champion, indeed.

The Finley's want to say "thank you" the staff at St. Louis Children's Hospital and the community here in the Ozarks for the never-ending support during this whole experience.

Michael will go to St. Louis every three months to see his doctors, but he hopes to be back at wrestling practice in January.

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