COVID-19 double lung transplant survivor gets second shot at life: “A life changing event”

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 9:03 AM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - After more than 10 years working as a security officer at UF Health, 55-year-old Kenneth Traylor never pictured being on the other side of the hospital walls.

Kenneth was an active, fit father of ten children who spent his extra time strength coaching students in Alachua County. That was until he started feeling COVID-19 symptoms and checked into the hospital last October.

His wife, Wanda Traylor, said what began with him feeling tired, quickly turned into months of lying in a hospital bed.

“Kenneth’s lungs were gone. They were completely gone. He was on dialysis, his kidneys went out first,” said Wanda.

Kenneth was on life support and was put into a coma, while his lungs and kidney failed. As a last resort, he was put on echmo to do the work for his lungs and heart while they waited for a miracle.

“The doctors talked to me over the phone and asked me what I want if we were to lose him, because he was going he was pretty much out of here,” said Wanda. “Then, they said there’s one more thing we can do.”

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Kenneth was placed on a waiting list for new lungs and a kidney. Then right before Christmas, Wanda got a call.

“He was a match for both,” said Wanda.

UF Health is one of a few hospitals across the country able to perform COVID-19 related double lung transplants. Only 14 COVID-19 lung transplants have been performed at UF. Kenneth’s doctors, including Lung Transplantation Specialist Dr. Abbas Shahmohammadi, said he is the first in the world to additionally receive a new kidney.

RELATED STORY: UF Health one of few hospitals to complete COVID-19 related double lung transplants

“It’s a great opportunity and a great blessing that he happened to be here while he got sick - to be at the center that performs it,” said Dr. Shahmohammadi. “The end result was obviously rewarding for him and his loved ones and ultimately us as well.”

Nearly six months after his hospital check-in date, Kenneth is finally home with his family.

“How lucky am I? It was in the writing from up above,” said Kenneth. “This is a life-changing event. Those colleagues of mine, that’s what I call them, they’re my heroes.”

While he has a long road to recovery ahead of him, Kenneth said he couldn’t be more thankful for his second chance at life.

“I can’t make up six months but a lot of my time will be spent with my kids and grandchildren,” said Kenneth.

RELATED STORY: Front line nurse saved from COVID-19, receives double lung transplant from UF Health Shands

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