MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – UW Health reports the first Wisconsin patient of a double lung transplant because of COVID-19 has been reunited with their family.
According to the hospital, Carmen Lerma transferred to the University Hospital in October after she had a long battle with COVID-19.
When she arrived, they say Lerma wasn’t sure if or when she would ever see her family again.
Officials say the disease damaged her lungs so badly that her only way to survive was to receive a double lung transplant.
Her wait for a set of lungs only lasted a few days when her doctors got a call saying a person who had just lost their own life was able to give Lerma a second chance.
The hospital says two weeks after her surgery and four months after she had her COVID-19 diagnosis, Lerma left the transplant unit and reunited outside the hospital entrance with her husband, brother, and mother.
“I hadn’t seen my family in so long, and to finally be able to stand here and walk over to them is priceless. I never thought that I’d be able to do this again, so I really want to thank all the UW Health doctors and nurses, all of whom were amazing. It was a rough journey that got me here, but a great ending,” says Lerma.
The UW says Lerma became the first person in Wisconsin to undergo a double lung transplant because of COVID-19.
Dr. Dan McCarthy, a UW Health cardiothoracic surgeon, says Carmen still has a long road until recovery, but he is encouraged by the progress she’s made so far and is optimistic about her chances to get back to the life she had prior to her COVID-19 diagnosis.
Officials say Lerma understands that transplant recipients like her get a second chance at life because of the heroic decision of organ donors and has written a letter to her donor’s family to express her gratitude.
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