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StoryCorps in Oklahoma: Overcoming an Illness "Only One-Third Survive" (ENCORE) (Jan 27, 2012)

Nearly three years ago, Edmond resident Hans Plum contracted a rare blood infection that ended his childhood dream of a career in law enforcement. He told his wife Ali the inspiration for his career came on April 19, 1995 as he volunteered in downtown Oklahoma City in the days after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

“We were at ground zero within 20 minutes of the bombing, and looking for some of the guys that were in [his friend’s dad’s] homeless support program,” Hans Plum said. “We were down there three days in a row, and I would see the same officers there, and they hadn’t left yet. Something was instilled in me at that moment.”

Plum joined the Oklahoma City Police Department in 2007 - the same department he had marveled at 12 years earlier.

“On April 19, 2009, I had horrible headaches, and had taken off work because I felt so sick,” Plum said. “Two days later, I couldn’t move my right arm and was in the ER. I spent a few days in the ICU and a week in the hospital. I left about 20 pounds lighter than I had gone in.”

At that point in his career, Plum was training for SWAT Team tryouts.

“I was probably in the best shape I’d ever been in, and then couldn’t move my right arm; couldn’t walk from the front door to the mailbox,” Plum said. “About 10,000 people get the infection every year, and only about one-third survive it.”

Hans’s wife Ali says his illness didn’t set him back.

“To lose your childhood dream, to nearly die, and then watch you get back up and pursue another child dream – it was unbelievable,” Ali Plum said. “I think I now gain strength from that every day, because you had that drive to pursue what makes you feel alive inside, even when you didn’t have a whole lot of physical life in you. To witness that was just an amazing, amazing thing.”

Produced for KGOU by Brian Hardzinski, with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to recording and collecting stories of everyday people. The Senior Producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

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