Man survives COVID-19 after double-lung transplant

A Florida man needed a double-lung transplant to beat COVID-19.

"Every time I breathe is a gift," said David Wilkinson.

A gift, because the 50-year-old man is breathing air through two new lungs thanks to an organ donor.

After getting COVID-19 and ending up on a ventilator five months ago, his wife was given the heartbreaking decision to keep him on life support or not.

But they weren't ready to give up.

They said it would take about five minutes for him to pass," said Karen Wilkinson, David's Wife "Before he was placed on life support, he made me promise that I would not let him stop fighting."

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That’s where Dr. Cynthia Gries comes into the pictures. She saw a post on Facebook about David and had a mission to make him AdventHealth Orlando's first COVID-19 related lung transplant recipient,  advising David's wife to keep him on life support.

"I said, 'You know? Hold on. Let’s see if he can get better," she said.

They flew David to AdventHealth Orlando, where they got him well enough to qualify for the double lung transplant in November.

"After seeing so much death and loss, having a story like this come out of a Facebook post make us and be uplifted," said Dr. Gries.

While the road to get to where he is now has been hard -- learning to walk again and going through therapy -- he didn’t give up.

"If you lose hope, you lose the battle. You stop trying,  you lose. It’s your mental attitude. I’m going to try," he said.

None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Your organs can save multiple lives or be embalmed with the rest of you.

Now he is encouraging people to become organ donors and make those wishes clear with their families -- to give others another chance at life as he has been given.

"I can never thank them enough for the gift they’ve given me."

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