Oklahoma firefighter travels nearly 900 miles to Phoenix after surviving COVID-19 for life-saving double lung surgery

Randy Blake, 44, has stared at fire throughout his career, but COVID-19 has scarred his lungs and literally took his breath away.

PHOENIX – A firefighter from Stillwater, Oklahoma has taken all precautions to protect himself from COVID-19. He wore a mask while continuing to work on the front lines to fight fires and protect his community. But last October he began to breathe.

It went pretty quickly, I had no real signs of symptoms and then one night I just got it to where I couldn’t breathe, they sent immediately to the emergency room,Said Blake.

He was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was admitted to the Oklahoma Heart Institute, where his condition quickly deteriorated.

“I was at ECMO for five weeks and a ventilator for seven weeks, ”said Blake. His wife Jennifer and their four children feared for his life.

“”There were times when we didn’t know if it was him I’ll make it through the day, “said Jennifer.

Although Blake was able to improve and leave ECMO in December, the virus caused irreversible lung damage so he needed a double lung transplant to survive.

“One day one of my doctors, Dr. Ghuloom of Oklahoma Heart, said he thought I was a good candidate for a double lung transplant and that he was going to call someone he knew in Arizona,” recalls Blake.

His doctor turned to experts at the Norton Thoracic Institute (SJNTI) in St. Joseph. in Phoenix.

He’s the guy supposed to save you and me from the mountain and now he can’t walk because he can’t breathe, ”said the SJNTI cardiothoracic surgeon DR. Samad Hashimi.

Dr. Hashimi was one of the Blakes surgeons and says the humble first responder is on the way to a full recovery.

Blake and his wife are grgrateful for the team that gave him a second chance and the person their lung now allow him to breathe once again.

To honor the donor of these lungs I thinkIn a year they’ll tell me who it is so I can get in touch with them, ”Blake said.

Blake has about three months left in Phoenix before he and his wife can safely return to Oklahoma.

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