Air Evac flight nurse shares COVID-19, double lung transplant experience

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 4:33 PM EDT
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BULLOCH COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - A Bulloch County man hopes his personal fight with COVID leads others to get vaccinated.

Back in the spring we told you about his illness as he waited for a lung transplant. Months after the surgery, he’s still adjusting but spent this week back home.

Matt Rogers has spent decades helping save lives. He’s spent 2021 so far in a fight for his own.

It still takes him some effort to walk across the living room. He still recalls getting sick at work as an Air Evac flight nurse in mid-January. He went from testing positive for COVID to hospitalized to his lungs failing, in less than a week.

“The crazy thing is, I was scheduled to get my first vaccination the following day,” Rogers said.

Three weeks in, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville took him as a transplant candidate. Even on machines to stay alive, he had to stay healthy enough to qualify for transplant. His surgery came in April. To his doctor’s knowledge, he’s the first person ever to get double lungs and a double bypass at the same time. This week, he drew a hero’s welcome home. He credits his family, his coworkers, neighbors and others with getting him through.

“I’m so humbled and overwhelmed by the amount of people who were praying for me and everything that everybody has done for me.”

His journey since then has been slow, including the months it took for his body to fully accept new organs. He now urges those he knows to get their COVID vaccination and avoid what he calls “eight months of torture”.

“I spent three months on Parris Island in Marine Corps boot camp. If I had the choice to do either one again, I’d go to Parris Island, that’s how rough it was.”

He currently splits his time between home and Mayo for rehab and therapy, but that will taper off over the next months. One day, he’d like to get back in the air helping others.

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