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Nurse survives COVID-19 after double lung transplant

A patient in same hospital where she works
Kari 1.jpg
Posted at 7:23 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 09:49:16-05

INDIANAPOLIS — It has been quite a journey for Kari Wegg. She’s worked tirelessly as a NICU nurse at St. Vincent Hospital for more than 25-years, when she found herself fighting for her own life with COVID-19 in that very same hospital.

“It’s devastating. I never thought something like this could happen to me,” says Wegg. “It’s been so hard because I was healthy. And I thought if I ever got it, I would be fine.”

Wegg first got sick in June, diagnosed with pneumonia. Then in July, she, her husband and two children tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I do work in a hospital,” she said. “My husband also works in a hospital. It’s very possible we got it from the hospital.”

Her family had mild symptoms and recovered quickly, while Wegg, on the other hand, did not. “It’s been since July since I’ve seen my boys. And I haven’t been able to hug them or love on them, and they miss me so much,” Wegg said.

Put on an ECMO machine, heart and lung bypass, and not improving for over a month, on August 19, she says doctors discussed removing care.

“Their dad had to sit down and tell them their mother might die. And they’ve had to try and cope with that,” she tells WRTV.

But she says her husband wouldn’t give up. Calls were made, and she was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago on September 5 for a double lung transplant.

Northwestern was the first to do a COVID-19 double lung transplant in the country and Wegg was only the sixth survivor to undergo the surgery.

“I am eternally grateful to the family of my donors,” says Wegg. “I don’t know anything about them or how they died but they gave me the gift of life.”

Grateful to be alive, but devastated financially, with non-stop medical bills, she suffers in her bed, while her fellow healthcare workers continue the fight.

“One of my coworkers got it. And she died. She died.”

Praying people see this story and take this virus seriously. “I’m hoping my message as a nurse who didn’t expect any of this can you get out there and bring it home to people who don’t necessarily want to wear a mask or want to isolate themselves or quarantine. This is real.”

A GoFundMe fundraiser was started on her behalf by her sister to help cover her mounting medical costs, as well as support her family and her recovery.To view the GoFundMe, please visit: https://gf.me/v/c/hjb/kari039s-covid-relief-fund [url6741.gofundme.com]