TRANSPLANT

Houston Methodist COVID-19 Patient Receives Life-Saving Double Lung Transplant

Dec. 11, 2020

Thomas Steele was one of the lucky ones. At 50 years of age, with no preexisting conditions, he contracted COVID-19. It left him gasping for breath. He told his story of terrifying illness and amazing healing to Robin Young of Here & Now.

After contracting COVID-19 in San Antonio, where he works in sales for a construction company, he wasn’t too concerned. It seemed like everyone had it. Then he took a turn for the worse and was admitted to the local hospital.

“You pretty much are gasping for every breath, and you're thinking about every breath,” Steele said in an interview with Here & Now. “You're sucking for air.”

For two months, he was tethered to ECMO, a last-ditch protocol that takes over the function of a person’s heart and lungs.

By the time he was transferred from to Houston Methodist, his lungs were “totally destroyed,” according to his surgeon, Thomas E. MacGillivray, MD, chief of cardiac surgery and thoracic transplant at Houston Methodist. “Most people whose lungs are in that condition don’t survive,” he said.

The good news is that Steele survived. He received a double lung transplant at Houston Methodist and is currently recovering. He wants people to know the virus “is not a joke. It's nothing to play with. It's real and it's serious.” He and MacGillivray want to urge everyone to keep physically distant from others who do not live in your household, wear a mask and wash hands frequently.

Hear Steele’s remarkable story of recovery on Here & Now.