SACRAMENTO, CA - A man from Sacramento is in a coma Wednesday after contracting the West Nile Virus.
In recent days, Rory Stevenson has been on life support in a hospital in Arizona. For years, he called Sacramento home, but recently moved to Scottsdale for a new job. Now, people across the country are pulling together in hopes of bringing him closer to his family.
Stevenson's daughter and other family members live in Washington state and would like to bring him home to them, but money's been an issue.
Now, many of Stevenson's friends, including longtime Sacramento pals, are trying to shine a light on this case.
"He's fought this long, so there's no giving up," Stevenson's daughter Danielle Eggert said.
In Arizona, Eggert has been by her father's bedside hoping to see him turn the corner. Soon she'll have to return to her home in Washington, where she wants to keep her dad close to her no matter how long his struggle continues. Both the trip and the treatment will be expensive, but Stevenson's longtime Sacramento friends hope they can help.
"I think that's been the amazing thing that's come from this horrific tragedy is that 32 people from all over the country are pulling together for him," Stevenson's friend David Low said.
Nobody knows when or where he was bitten by the mosquito. At first, he thought he had the flu. Then 14 days later, he was in the hospital in a coma. When Low learned it was West Nile Virus, he helped with online efforts to raise money.
Chef Taro Arai also spoke out to raise awareness about his friend of many years.
"He's one of the funniest guys, enjoyable guy," Arai said. "He always comes in, just makes us laugh, and my English was pretty bad back then, so he taught me all the English too back then."
As tribute to his friend, the chef resurrected Mikuni's popular Oakley roll, which he credits for starting a trend.
"He gave me Oakley sunglasses. He used to work for Oakley, and he said, I want you to design Oakley roll," Arai said. "He's one of the first guys to ask me what to do back in the day, so we created our Oakley roll."
"He's the real deal. He's a genuine, authentic guy, and the moment you meet him, he makes you feel like family," Low said.
Though Stevenson's prognosis remains uncertain, loved ones aren't giving up hope.
"I hope I get to make this Oakley roll for him again soon," Arai said. "Be well. Get well soon."
Doctors said this type of reaction for a healthy person happens in less than one percent of people who are bitten. Stevenson's fever broke Wednesday morning, and even though he's still in a coma, he is showing signs of progress.
Since the fundraising began, an air ambulance company has offered to fly him to Washington. They hope he'll be stabilized enough to make that trip by this Sunday.
If you would like to help Rory Stevenson, visit TeamRory.org to learn more