18/07/2012 07:13 BST | Updated 18/07/2012 10:38 BST

Bubonic Plague Sufferer Will Survive... But Loses His Gangrenous Fingers and Toes (PICTURES)

An American man who was inches from death after contracting the bubonic plague from a stray cat will survive, but at the expense of his fingers and toes.

Paul Gaylord, of Bend, Oregon, fell seriously ill in June after coming into contact with a stray cat. It was thought Mr Gaylord may have become infected after being bitten by a flea living in the animal's fur.

After initially believing he had the flu, Gaylord was rushed to hospital after his lymph nodes swelled enormously.

He has chosen not to let the harrowing illness get the better of him, telling he just felt "lucky" to be alive.

Gaylord's hands became gangrenous during the illness

"I'm going to have a long row to hoe but at least I have one," he said.

The 59-year-old was kept in intensive care at nearby St. Charles Medical Center for a nearly a month, with his family told at one point he would not survive the condition.

Gaylord's son, Jake, even flew from Texas to Oregon, 1900 miles away, to be with his father and say good bye, while Paul's mother, Almeda, organised a baptism just in case.

Gaylord had to have his fingers and toes removed to prevent the gangrene spreading

However, he managed to survive, although doctors were forced to remove his gangrenous fingers and toes.

Gaylord, formerly a welder, will have a long road to recovery and relearn how to walk and use his hands.

Gaylord's niece, Andrea Gibb, has started a fund for donations to reconstruct Paul's home to allow him to live.