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He had no pre-existing health conditions but needed a double lung transplant after surviving COVID

The 64-year-old Houston man says surviving coronavirus destroyed his lungs, making him a candidate for a double lung transplant.

HOUSTON — A Houston man underwent a double lung transplant after battling COVID-19 for months.

Mark Kuitert’s experience with the virus started over the summer. His grandson was hospitalized with COVID-19 during a family vacation in Colorado. Kuitert drove home to avoid exposing others. He began noticing symptoms a few days later.

The 64-year-old was admitted to the hospital on June 29. A month later, doctors told him he needed a double lung transplant.

“Never expected it. I hadn’t been in the hospital. Hadn’t had any lung problems ever in my life. Here I am getting a lung transplant,” Kuitert said.

Dr. Soma Jyothula is associate professor of medicine at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and medical director of the lung transplant program at Memorial Hermann.

Jyothula said Kuitert had no pre-existing conditions, but surviving the virus destroyed his lungs. He is one of about 20 patients in the country to get a double lung transplant because of COVID-19.

“I’m sure you must have been exposed on social media to, ‘Hey, it’s only the older people or people who are chronically ill getting sick. Maybe if I’m healthy, I don’t have the chance I’ll have a severe infection.' I think that’s so false,” Jyothula said. “This illness, even if you’re a young healthy person, you can have a severe infection. We have seen that.”

The Houston grandfather underwent surgery on Aug. 30. He remained in the hospital until Nov. 9. He's now grateful to be back at home, breathing on his own.

“Maybe this helps someone change their mind to go ahead and get this vaccine and try to put a stop to this virus from spreading so much. Hopefully, people start wearing their masks,” Kuitert said.