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COVID-19 patients who were first in US to undergo double lung transplants at Northwestern share their stories

Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

It wasn't until weeks after the transplant that she realized: "There's a family out there that's grieving their loved one. I have that person's lungs."

Now, as she continues to recover, Ramirez is grateful for the care she received and the opportunity she was given.

She said she doesn't feel special, but "I think that I definitely have a purpose, and if that purpose is simply telling my story to raise awareness for people to stay safe and take this condition seriously and for centers to understand that lung transplants for terminally ill COVID patients is an option, then I'm fine with that."

Kuhns, 62, is also recovering. The husband, father and grandfather sought medical care in March after experiencing stomach pain and severe headaches. He didn't think COVID-19 was a serious threat, so he had continued living his life normally despite the illness' spread.

"I was perfectly healthy," Kuhns said. "This thing took me down hard."

He received his transplant July 5.

"We finally got some hope," said Kuhns' wife, Nancy.


She said she's been overwhelmed with all the support the family has received, and has advice for those who also think COVID-19 is not a big deal.

"Stay safe and listen to what they're telling you about washing, masks and everything," Nancy Kuhns said. "It's not a joke whatsoever. It's not a hoax."

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