Scoop: 20/20 on ABC - Today, August 25, 2017

Friday night “20/20” reports on the inspirational journey of a reality television executive who fought back from death’s door and lived to tell the tale, featuring video diaries in real time of his mysterious, rapid decline in health and miraculous recovery.

Jonathan Koch was the poster child of “clean living” – never smoking or drinking alcohol and coffee, and exercising regularly. As the co-founder of the production company Asylum Entertainment, which recently sold for over $100 million, he was traveling to a conference when he started to feel sick. Overnight, Koch went from fitness fanatic to intensive care hospital patient when his organs began to suddenly fail.

Doctors were baffled about what was killing him and why the treatment they were giving him was ineffective. They put Koch in what was essentially a medically induced coma, but soon gangrene set in and his limbs began to die. Two days later doctors determined that he had an uncommon and aggressive autoimmune disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). Once on chemotherapy and steroids he began to recover, but there was irreversible damage to his extremities, causing him unspeakable pain. Eventually his left hand and the fingers on his right hand, his right leg and the toes on his left foot were amputated. Unable to use his hands and legs, Koch relied heavily on his then-fiancée, Jennifer Gunkel.
Dr. Kodi Azari, one of the world’s leading hand-transplant pioneers, gave him new hope of a better functioning life. Koch was in poor health and spent weeks in rigorous physical therapy, pushing himself to get into shape and become eligible for a rare hand transplant that is one of the first-of-its-kind. Finally, a donor hand became available; and 21 months after he almost lost his life, Koch woke up with a new hand. Determined, Koch continued his physical therapy, making progress at an unprecedented rate, even surprising Dr. Azari.
The report includes interviews with Koch; Gunkel, who recorded the video diaries; Dr. Azari; Dr. Lynn Abell and Dr. Michael Seneff, heads of the team who first diagnosed Koch; Lisa Koch, Koch’s sister; Jewel, singer and Koch’s friend; former captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, whose story inspired Dr. Azari’s preparation for the groundbreaking surgery; Joel Surnow, creator of “24” and Koch’s friend. “Nightline” Anchor Juju Chang’s report airs on “20/20” FRIDAY, AUGUST 25 (10:00–11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC.
“20/20” is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and David Muir. David Sloan is senior executive producer.

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