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COVID survivor discharged from hospital after 262 days and a double lung transplant

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Posted at 7:24 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 18:00:52-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A Chula Vista man is back home with his family 262 days after he first entered the hospital for COVID.

“All my kids are extremely happy to have Daddy home. We’ve missed him so much. It’s been very, very hard on us," said Elizabeth Angulo, wife of Aaron Angulo.

Aaron first felt lung discomfort in July of 2021, and checked into the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19 a few days later. While Elizabeth and their oldest child were both vaccinated, Aaron had decided not to get the vaccine, citing his physical fitness. “He said he didn’t want to become a zombie, or horns grow out of his head. It’s not FDA approved. He said why? Why do it right now?" Elizabeth told ABC 10News in 2021.

Continuing to struggle in the ICU, Aaron was placed on life support. He was then placed on an ECMO machine, considered a last resort to oxygenate the blood outside of his lungs. “He had his hard times, a couple of times when they told us come and say good-bye," Elizabeth said.

Amazingly, Aaron continued to hang on. Doctors at UC San Diego Health say they have never had a patient survive on an ECMO machine for so long. They began preparing Aaron for a double lung transplant. After a few months, they found a match. “He kept his inner strength," said Dr. Gordon Yung. "He was always very cheerful. No matter how painful things are, he would keep pushing it through and keep exercising.”

Aaron was finally discharged Friday afternoon. Friends, family, and even a mariachi band was waiting outside the hospital to greet him. While his family is thrilled to have him back, they know Aaron's bout with COVID and the resulting double lung transplant will have permanent effects. "It’s a lot of medicines, a lot of therapy, but if we got through this, we can get through everything as a family," Elizabeth said.

Dr. Yung stresses the important of being vaccinated, pointing out that every single person he has treated that has needed a lung transplant because of COVID has been unvaccinated.