COVID-19 deniers are among the worst and most unexpected side-effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic. People who don’t believe the virus is real refuse to take steps to protect themselves against infection, putting their lives and the lives of others at risk. One denier from Texas spread the illness to his entire family recently, costing at least one relative her life.
It’s often too late that they realize the illness is real and can lead to death. And it’s usually only after contracting the virus themselves. One such man spent 100 days on ventilation machines before getting a life-saving double lung transplant, the kind of radical treatment that’s not available to all severe COVID-19 patients. Before the whole ordeal, he thought the virus was a hoax and refused to wear a mask. Now he wants the world to know his story.
The image below shows a comparison between healthy human lungs and a lung that has been destroyed by the coronavirus and subsequent bacterial infections.
If it looks familiar, that’s because the damaged lung on the right belongs to a 28-year-old patient who became the first COVID-19 survivor to receive new lungs as a last resort that saved her life. We heard the story back in early June when a team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago performed the surgery successfully. At the time, we didn’t even know the name of the patient or whether she would survive.
A series of reports this week profiled the intervention and her recovery, and we learned that Mayra Ramirez is a paralegal who worked from home in the first months of the pandemic. She protected herself as much as possible but ended up in the hospital on a ventilator. “I’m pretty sure that if I had been at another center, they would have just ended care and let me die,” she said in an interview. Dr. Ankit Bharat performed the surgery that saved her life, and it wasn’t long until other patients sought similar treatments.
That’s the case with 62-year-old Brian Kuhns, who underwent transplant surgery on July 5th after spending 100 days on life support machines. Before being infected, he thought the disease was not real, as his wife Nancy revealed in a statement released by the hospital.
“No one can prepare you for the emotional toll COVID-19 takes on a family. Not being able to see, touch, or hold your loved one as they’re fighting for their life in the ICU is extremely difficult,” Nancy Kuhns said. “Before COVID-19, Brian was a pretty healthy guy who loved music, cars, and making people laugh. But he also thought COVID-19 was a hoax. I assure you; Brian’s tune has now changed. COVID-19 is not a hoax. It almost killed my husband.”
Brian Kuhns chimed in as well. “Everything happened so quickly. One minute I’m running my business, and the next minute I’m spending 100 days on a life support machine,” he said. “I’m extremely grateful for the care team at my original hospital who put me on ECMO, and I can’t thank the lung transplant team at Northwestern Medicine enough. Without them, I know I wouldn’t be here today. If my story can teach you one thing, it’s that COVID-19 isn’t a joke. Please take this seriously.”…Read more>>