A 24-year-old unvaccinated man from Florida had to undergo a double-lung transplant after contracting COVID-19.
In late March, Blake Bargatze, a 24-year-old from Florida went to an indoor concert. Two days later, he started to feel sick, and his health deteriorated. Within a few days, he underwent hospitalization due to bilateral COVID pneumonia. As his condition worsened further, he was put on an ECMO machine – a heart-lung machine used in critical care settings. The device pumps blood to an artificial lung in the machine; carbon dioxide is removed and oxygen is added to the blood. The oxygenated blood is then pumped back into the body. However, Blake’s lungs had still not recovered. Thus, Dr. Peter Barrett, Piedmont Healthcare’s Director of ECMO, advised the family for a double-lung transplant.
In an interview with CNN, Blake’s mother, Cheryl Nuclo recounted the harrowing details of his brush with death. Although she had lost all hope of him surviving, three months, several hospitals, and two transplants later, Blake is now doing much better. Currently, he is recovering at the University of Maryland Hospital and is expected to be discharged soon. He will spend the next few months at the physical rehabilitation centre as he regains his health.
Unvaccinated People Most at Risk
The 24-year-old had none of the risk factors of developing a severe infection, but he regularly vaped. According to research, vaping puts people at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing complications. However, Blake’s doctors do not believe vaping led to his condition. Instead, they blame it on his probable exposure to a high viral load in a high-transmission setting.
Notably, Blake Bargatze was the only one among his family members to have not received a single dose of any vaccine. According to his family, the 24-year-old wanted to wait a few more years before getting the vaccine. However, the decision nearly cost him his life.
As the Delta variant spreads across the world, countries are facing a new wave of infections and hospitalizations. In the United States, the variant accounts for more than 85% of new cases. Moreover, 99% of hospitalizations in the country have occurred in unvaccinated individuals. Blake and his family are now urging people to get vaccinated and take the pandemic seriously.