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Corpus Christi COVID-19 double lung transplant patient: 'Quit pretending that it's fake.'

Jose Sosa is the first patient in South Texas, and one of the first in the country, to receive a double lung transplant after catching COVID-19.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A 39-year-old Corpus Christi man is the first in South Texas, and one of the first in the nation, to receive a double lung transplant after catching COVID-19. He has a powerful warning for those who are not taking the virus seriously.

“Quit pretending that it’s fake,” he said as he talked about his battle with COVID-19 during a virtual press conference captured on a video recording at University Hospital in San Antonio. “Protect yourself, protect your family. Stay away from as many people as you can who are not in your immediate household,” he urged.

Sosa went to a hospital in Corpus Christi on July 4 after he tested positive for the coronavirus and began having difficulty breathing. 

Sosa said he was often in contact with a lot of people through his work at a garden center and as a disc jockey for entertainment venues and parties, but he isn't sure exactly how he got the virus.  He said he had no known pre-existing conditions.

Sosa was transferred to a San Antonio hospital when his condition worsened and was evaluated for a lung transplant by a team at the University Health Transplant Center located at University Hospital.

Sosa went through a six-hour surgery to get two new lungs from a deceased donor. 

On Dec. 2, nearly five months after entering a hospital, Mr. Sosa was able to go home. His family said he lost about 100 pounds since contracting COVID-19.

Credit: Sosa Family

“I feel very blessed, thankful, grateful. I’m just happy to be alive,” he said.

Dr. Edward Sako, surgical director for the lung transplant program and on faculty at UT Health San Antonio, performed the surgery.

Sako said physicians are still learning when COVID-19 patients with damaged lungs will improve and when they need a transplant to survive.

“It became clear over time (Sosa) was not going to recover from this,” Dr. Sako said. “That’s how we came to the conclusion he would be a candidate for lung transplant.”

Sosa is hoping his story will convince at least some who are letting their guard down to mask-up and take precautions, so they are never faced with the need for a transplant to survive.

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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