- A 52-year-old coronavirus patient who thought COVID-19 would be like the flu and who thought he was healthy enough to fight it ended up on a ventilator for four months.
- His lung tissue was so damaged that the only way to save his life was a double lung transplant.
- “I’ve lost 50-plus pounds from this illness. I don’t recommend it as a diet plan for anybody,” the patient said. “My attitude has changed. You need to take it seriously.”
A 62-year-old man was lucky enough to qualify for a double lung transplant in early July after spending 100 days on life support machines following COVID-19 complications. The coronavirus denier used not to wear a mask before he was infection, as he believed that the virus wasn’t real. The man advised others to take COVID-19 seriously while talking about his procedure.
It turns out this sort of event isn’t isolated, as a different coronavirus denier got two new lungs of his own after spending four months on mechanical ventilation.
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When the first coronavirus cases appeared in the US, Arthur Sanchez thought it would be like the flu and dissappear after a few months, ABC News reports. The man thought he would be healthy enough to fight the illness, even if he got it. His family, including his mother, sister, and brother-in-law, were all infected. His brother-in-law died. On Easter morning, Sanchez woke up with a fever and shortness of breath. He was caring for his mother and had tested negative for the illness before that.
He spent three days in the hospital, was discharged, and ended up back in the hospital after just a day. He wasn’t feeling right, and doctors put him on a ventilator.
Sanchez spent nearly five months in New Mexico hospitals, and almost four of them were on a mechanical ventilator. “There’s a point at which we know these lungs are not going to recover — such was Arthur’s case,” Dr. Rajat Walia said. Walia is the medical director in charge of the transplant program at St. Joseph’s.
Sanchez had to get on a plane to Arizona for the double transplant in mid-August and then spent two weeks recovering from the life-saving surgery. He’s now on immune-suppressing medicines that ensure his body does not reject the new organs.
“I’ve lost 50-plus pounds from this illness. I don’t recommend it as a diet plan for anybody,” Sanchez said of his experience. “My attitude has changed. You need to take it seriously.”
Walia said he had received many referrals for similar cases, and lung transplants may prove to be a possible COVID-19 therapy for some patients. But lungs aren’t easy to find, and patients need to wait weeks for a matching donor. Lung transplants accounted for just 7% of the 40,000 US organ transplants in the last year. So far, 2,200 lung transplants were performed this year, but it’s unclear how many were for COVID-19 patients.
This particular scientific paradox should not escape anyone who is still skeptical about the dangers of COVID-19. A double lung transplant is a remarkable feat of medical science, allowing people to continue living with the help of organs from donors who have passed away. It’s a last resort that not many people have access to, but which is possible and can save lives. But coronavirus deniers usually deny the same medical science that tells them the virus is highly infectious and COVID-19 can have unexpected outcomes. It’s usually too late when they realize the illness is real and that it has to be taken seriously. Others, like Sanchez, get an incredible second chance at life. Preventing COVID-19 for as long as possible is a much better alternative than risking a double lung transplant.