Clinic veterans call a "life-saver" in danger of closing by end of the week
"How you feeling?" mom Tamie asked her son Dustin, "Fine?"
Dustin nods and makes a noise indicating he's alright.
"Your eyes are clear!" Tamie exclaimed happily.
To Tamie and Dustin this short interaction is a total transformation.
"We basically were told he'd be a vegetable," she said, "and we refused to believe it."
Her 31-year-old son was in a car accident 10 years ago and has a traumatic brain injury.
But Tamie says everything changed when she found out about hyperbaric oxygen and where Dustin could get it for free in Oklahoma City.
"Just tears of joy because when you think there's no hope then you hear about the Patriot Clinic," she said.
But Dustin's treatment may have to end early. Almost all the clinic's equipment is on loan and it's staff is entirely volunteer. After nine months of appointments with thousands of patients, the clinic does not have the money to pay the $16,000 bill it racked up in oxygen.
"A lot of people we're taking care of right now their treatment will stop effective tomorrow," said Clinic Director Chris Gregg. Gregg, a Gulf War veteran, is a former patient who says he was depressed and suicidal after serving his country. Just halfway through his treatment he says he's well enough to volunteer at the clinic full-time in 13-hour shifts.
He helps 26 patients a day, seven days a week. And he says they're as young as five and as old as 75 years old.
As for the patients, many of them swear by the pure oxygen in the diving chamber. They say it changes everything.
"How do you feel?" reporter Rebecca Schleicher asked stroke victim Milton McCourtie as he exited the chamber, "Really good!" he said.
When patients get into the chamber they put on a mask with tubes attached. That's where the 100 percent oxygen flows. That's five times more than humans breathe on a regular basis and staff say it can help heal a number of different problems including diabetes, arthritis, PTSD, brain injuries, seizures, migraines and strokes, despite the fact that the treatment is not FDA approved.
"He looks around, he's moving his head so I was seeing just a great improvement," Tamie said, "and just think about it - he's only done a quarter of his treatments."
"Every few weeks somebody new comes in," Chris said, "they don't have a smile on their face, they're bent over in pain and a few weeks later they're walking and smiling standing up straighter."
A bill passed this session paves the way for every Oklahoma veteran to get hyperbaric oxygen treatment free of charge starting in November. However, the bill does not provide funding for the program.
To donate to the Patriot Clinic visit TheHugsProject.com