OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) — They beat long odds to make it through life-threatening medical problems. Today at Advocate Christ Medical Center, five survivors were the guests of honor at an awards luncheon.

Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton was among them. He said dealing with West Nile really changed his life for the better.

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Aside from losing sixty pounds, he said, “I found a lot out about life that I took for granted. Beautiful wife, kids, grand kids, friends, family.”

Sexton was laid up for two months, and continues rehab twice a week. He calls his ordeal “a blessing.”

He said he doesn’t know when he was bitten, saying, “mosquitoes didn’t even like me.”

Sexton said it’s the staff at the hospital, not him, that deserves the award. The others said the same thing.

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Kent Carson, of Oak Lawn, lost an arm and two legs to Legionaires Disease. He said his odds of survival were 10 percent.

“I pulled through. So, I’m glad to be here and I’m fortunate to be here,” he said.

Carson said people wouldn’t know he lost his legs unless he tells them.

Joseph Cohen, of Addison, also beat the odds. He’s a heart transplant patient who said he was near death at least six times. He was in the hospital for six months.

Today, he said has the heart of a 17-year-old. He joked that he has suits that are older.

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The awards recipients also include a 4-year-old boy who’s recovering from a stroke, and a hospital chaplain who said her family ought to get the award, since they were by her side the whole time.