The wrestling community suffered a tragic loss on December 26, 2020 when Jon Huber (Brodie Lee in AEW, Luke Harper in WWE) passed away.
Huber had been off AEW television since October and details surrounding his absence were unknown, which was by design given the gravity of the situation.
Jon's wife Amanda appeared on AEW Unrestricted and detailed Jon's final months, beginning with his podcast appeared on AEW Unrestricted, which was recorded on a Monday and aired on October 26.
"We have the Peleton in the garage, he came in and he's like, 'I quit my ride.' I was like, 'that's not like you.' He had never quit a ride before. I was like, 'You okay?' 'Yeah, I just feel like I can't catch my breath.' I have been COVID paranoid. No fever, I asked if he could smell, and went through all that. He recorded the podcast and everything was normal. Tuesday, he tried to do his workout, did his workout, tried his Peleton ride, came in the house and was like, 'I don't know what the hell is going on, I can't get this ride in.' He would typically drive to Jacksonville on Tuesday. He drove to Jacksonville, got COVID tested through AEW and tested negative. Doc Sampson was like, 'I don't trust this. I know you don't feel good, I don't feel safe letting you in. Go home, come back next week.' He drove him, I quarantined him in the bedroom on the off chance he had COVID. He had a fever Thursday and Friday. Thursday, he got the nasal swab. I was keeping him hydrated, he wasn't eating. Friday, we went to urgent care and they diagnosed him with bronchitis and allergies. We were like, 'That's not what this is.' He felt like he had pneumonia. They gave him an oral steroid and allergy medicine. Saturday was the same deal, not eating, but he was drinking. I told him, 'As soon as you stop drinking, you're going to the hospital. As soon as your fever goes to 103, you're going to the hospital.' His fever would tap out at 102.9. Sunday was awful. His face looked sunken in and I was done with it. We go to the hospital and he walked into the hospital. He used my shoulder to brace himself, but not really putting pressure on me," she recalled.
Amanda went on to say that she was yelling at Jon to sitdown at the hospital before being taken back to triage. In triage, they took his temperature and his fever had gone away. The nurse then took his oxygen level multiple times, feeling the machines were broken due to the low number registered.
"The machine wasn't broken. His oxygen was at 52. A normal person is supposed to be 95-100. They rush him back, got him on oxygen. Every day he was doing kind of okay, a little rocky, but kind of okay. Wednesday, they moved him into ICU and the reasoning was they wanted to keep a better eye on him and get more one-on-one care. They wanted to be proactive. A handful of people at AEW knew what was going on," she said.
Amanda then noted that every day seemed to be getting a little worse. The doctors informed her that Jon needed to be transferred from Tampa to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and the possibility of a lung transplant was first rboached. Jon had crashed on Halloween and had tubes down his throat.
Jon was airlifted around 1 a.m. and in the ambulance over to the Mayo Clinic, there was yelling about his oxygen levels. She was asked to wait in the hall once they arrived at the clinic, where she was forgotten about. At around 4 a.m., she was told the process of ECMO, which was described to her as “dialysis for the lungs.”
She went on praise the doctors and nurses and singled out AEW Legal Coordinator Margaret Stalvey and AEW Chief Legal Officer Megha Parekh.
"November 9, I came to talk to AEW. Every single step of the way, everybody has come to me and been like, 'Are you okay with this? What can we do better?' I wanted everybody to keep their mouth shut. I was asking for discretion. At the time, we thought he was going to get better because he was showing signs of improvement. I thought for sure he would wake up and he would read on the dirtsheets that he was in the hospital. I told them, 'If you need me to speak to everyone and guilt the fuck out of them when they see the look on my face and what is being asked of them.' They didn't want to ask me, but if I was cool with it. I told them, 'I will because I want them to keep their mouths shut.' I fully expected it to hit the dirtsheets," she said.
Throughout the process, it was believed by even doctors that Jon had contracted COVID and that a positive COVID test would at least given them an explanation as to what was going on.
"This is not 100% accurate because we don't have an autopsy report yet, but I believe the official diagnosis is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which literally means that his lungs scarred up and the idiopathic part means they don't know why," she said before explaining that the fever had scarred his lungs and that ECMO treatment was to give his lungs a break in hopes they would improve.
On the same day she visited AEW to inform everyone of what was going on, the possibility of a lung transplant was brought up once again.
"They talked to me about a lung transplant on November 9. I filled out the paperwork and then he showed signs of getting better. He started physical therapy and things were looking up. They performed a tracheotomy so they could remove him from the ventilator and put oxygen through his tube. He was able to wake up and started communicating with me. He would smile and mouth words to me. He couldn't talk, but he could mouth words. Things were looking up," she recalled.
Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse shortly after.
"He got taken off the ventilator and put on straight oxygen. That was the day things started going bad. We were super hopeful and he had a panic attack while on oxygen. From that day on, things went to shit. This was end of November. They had warned me when he started ECMO that it was a long process and there were going to be days where it was two steps forward, one step back and there would be days where it would be three steps back and one forward. I was prepared for ups and downs. Starting in December, it was consistently downhill. It kept getting worse," she said.
She was then informed by a doctor that the two options were a lung transplant or end of life care. If Jon had undergone a lung transplant, his life would have changed and while she thought she could handle it, she wasn't sure if Jon could before it would rule out him ever wrestling again. She filled out the paperwork for the transplant when she received more bad news.
"I got back to the Mayo clinic and they were like, 'He has an infection in his lungs.' They said it was a common bacteria, but because he was so immunocompromised, the bacteria had grown and his lungs were fucked," she said.
Due to the infection, Jon was not approved for a lung transplant. She and the doctors wanted to exhaust all options before beginning end of life care.
She went home to spend time with her kids on Christmas Eve and Christmas when a doctor that she didn't like called and wanted her to come back to the hospital to start the end of life process. Amanda was furious as she told the staff she didn't want to be bothered on those days and knew they couldn't do the process without her.
She said she wanted Cody Rhodes and Big E with her when she told Brodie Jr. about the situation. She also mentioned that Shawn Spears, Peyton Royce, and Tyler Breeze were three of the last people to see Jon before his passing.
For the end of life process, she wanted to make sure certain nurses were in the room with her and was thrilled to see familiar faces of support as Jon passed on December 26.
Amanda noted that they didn't have a funeral due to COVID and her not wanting to risk the health of anyone
"His AEW celebration of life, that was his funeral. The outpouring of love from the wrestling community has been unreal," she said.
She noted that when the tribute package for Jon aired at the end of the show, it was the first time she had seen it and that she cried.
Amanda praised AEW for truly being a family and taking care of her and her family throughout Jon's battle and after his passing. Brodie Jr. has become a regular at AEW events and on television. He recently did commentary work alongside Taz and Excalibur on AEW Dark.
"I get really angry at anyone who says, 'Oh, they're exploiting his family.' No, they are going above and beyond to let an eight-year-old live his favorite thing in the world and have a connection with his dad. I promise you, if Brodie didn't want to do this and he decided he hated wrestling, we'd walk away," she said.
During the podcast, Amanda also opened up about her own mental health, saying she is medicated, which has helped her be strong during the process. She also discussed how hard it was to miss so much time with the kids, Jon "yelling" at her to buy Brodie Jr. a denim jacket so he could be Orange Cassidy for Halloween and dressing up Nolan as his father, Brodie Jr's love of wrestling and wanting to attend an AEW event as a Christmas gift, and more.
I encourage anyone to fully listen to the podcast as no words can do justice to what Amanda and the Huber family went through in the final months of 2020.
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