07/31/2014 7:26PM

Catalano regains consciousness, continues to recover from illness


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Wayne Catalano, the prominent trainer who has been hospitalized for more than a week with a severe case of influenza A and subsequent pneumonia, has regained full consciousness, been taken off a respirator, and continues to make strong progress recovering from his illness.

Jockey Channing Hill, who is married to Catalano’s daughter, Shelbi, said late Thursday that Catalano, for the first time since last week, was conscious and responsive Thursday morning. Doctors had induced a coma to help Catalano’s body marshal all its resources to fight the illness.

“He’s tired but he’s been pretty responsive to questions,” Hill said.

Catalano also has been taken off the ventilator that was helping him breath, though he remains on oxygen being fed into his body through his nasal passage. With the pneumonia compromising Catalano’s lungs, his body was unable to properly supply itself with oxygen during the height of his illness last week. Catalano will gradually be weaned entirely from the external oxygen supply.

Catalano remains in the intensive care unit at St. Alexius Hospital in northwest suburban Chicago, but could be transferred out of the ICU as soon as Friday, Hill said.

“Everything is going even a little better than they were expecting,” Hill said.

Catalano fell ill more than two weeks before being hospitalized. He attempted to treat what he believed to be a standard case of flu himself, but finally sought treatment at an emergency room on Sunday, July 27. Catalano was sent home that day, but on Tuesday, his condition still worsening, he was admitted to the hospital.

Doctors initially were unable to determine exactly what type of virus Catalano had contracted, according to his wife, Renee, and his condition deteriorated through Thursday, but Catalano, who turned 58 last week, has since been on a slow but steady upward plane, and the worst of the sickness appears to be behind him.

In his absence, Catalano’s stable has kept humming along. Four of seven Catalano runners won last weekend, and horses in his barn swept the early daily double on Thursday at Arlington. The second of those victories gave Catalano 1,000 career winners at Arlington.