“I was strongly against getting the vaccine. Just because we’re a strong conservative family.”

“I was strongly against getting the vaccine,” Barker said through labored breathing. “Just because we’re a strong conservative family.”…

Barker got so sick that his wife took him to the emergency room in Branson. He was sent home with oxygen, but got worse.

With the Branson hospital maxed out with COVID-19 patients, doctors contacted a dozen hospitals in all corners of the state. All were at capacity. Lake Regional was nearly full, too, but Dr. Joe Sohal, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist, found a bed for Barker.

He arrived critically ill. Placed on a ventilator, Barker was given a 20% chance of surviving.

“The doctor told me he was going to let my wife and kid in so I could say my goodbyes because he didn’t think I was going to pull through,” Barker said. In those conversations, he told his wife and 6-year-old son, Brody, that he loved them “and I wasn’t going to give up.”