Director, ARDS Alliance
March 16, 2021, was the beginning of a long journey into a new way of life for me; It’s the day I tested positive for COVID-19, just four days before I was scheduled for my first dose of the vaccine. I progressively got worse and struggled to breath. After four emergency room visits between two hospitals, I was admitted to Geisinger in Danville, PA on March 24, 2021, with the diagnosis of Pneumonia due to COVID-19 virus and Acute respiratory failure with Hypoxia. Despite the different methods and treatments, my condition worsened.
On April 2, 2021, Good Friday, the doctors suggested and asked for me to voluntarily be placed on a ventilator in hopes to give my lungs a chance to rest and heal. Unfortunately, my condition worsened and progressed to the diagnosis of ARDS, Acute respiratory distress syndrome.
That following Monday, I had to be placed on ECMO to let my lungs rest. Very soon after, the doctors spoke with my wife and suggested a Bilateral lung transplant would be necessary to save my life. On May 6, 2021, I was life-flighted from Geisinger in Danville, PA to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, HUP where I was placed on the transplant list as of May 15, 2021. My condition worsened and various complications occurred to include Acute Delirium due to multiple etiologies, severe protein/calorie malnutrition, physical deconditioning, Bacterial Pneumonia, and Pneumothoraxes in both lungs.
I had to be placed on mechanically assisted ventilation. There was nothing left they could do. I was dying. It was a matter of viable lungs becoming available as fast as possible. Fortunately, I held on and received my Gift of Life from my donor. I had a Bilateral lung transplant on May 28, 2021.
I was hospitalized from March 24, 2021, to July 22, 2021; a total of 120 days. I was on ECMO for 54 days, a ventilator for 70 days, and 30 days at an inpatient physical rehabilitation hospital due to the physical deconditioning I experienced. Despite being discharged, I had to stay within a specified range so that I could be close to the hospital in case of a medical emergency and officially returned home on September 2, 2021.
To this day, I am still recovering physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My family and I have been picking up the pieces as we try to figure out and understand this new life. My wife and I have become involved with both hospitals I stayed at. We attempt to be a resource for other families having similar experiences as ours in hopes to give them guidance, answer questions they may have, and simply listen. I have found purpose in helping others and bringing awareness to such afflictions as ARDS with the hope that together, we can bring comfort and relief to other families until ARDS is longer a concern.