COVID-19 long hauler in need of a double-lung transplant

Alma McCarty

Ten weeks ago, Kenneth Cecil was released from the hospital after battling COVID-19 for 108 days. But the virus still has a tight grip on his life.

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — He spent more than 100 days battling COVID-19 in the hospital, not sure if he’d make it out. Now, a little more than two months later, Kenneth Cecil is recovering at home and growing stronger everyday – but he won’t fully regain his strength until he gets a double-lung transplant. 

At 55 years old, once healthy and active, Cecil’s life has slowed considerably – all because of COVID-19. 

“It’s just shut my life down, the COVID did,” he said, “My mind says go but my body a lot of days won’t let me go.”

Although it’s been more than two months since his surprise send-off from the hospital, the virus still has a tight grip on his life. 

RELATED: He battled COVID-19 for 108 days. Doctors told him he’ll need a double lung transplant

“It just completely came at me with an a vengeance, you know. It destroyed my body, mainly my lungs.”

He’s needed to be on oxygen 24/7 since leaving the COVID unit at Forsyth Medical Center in April. 

“Here in the house, I just drag this cord wherever I go,” he said, tugging at the oxygen tube, “It gets snagged on things, I step on it. It’s a nuisance. To be able to ditch the oxygen totally – hopefully one day – I’m really looking forward to that day.”

Despite the issues, Cecil’s recovery is going well at home. He’s feeling stronger everyday: walking indoors and outside when he can. He uses weights and a treadmill to build up his heart. 

However, he will still need a double-lung transplant in order to get back to the life he once had.

“The transplant is still in the future. I just don’t know how quick it’s going to happen or where it’s going to take place,” Cecil explained, “Back in the hospital, because of the type of insurance I had, no one would accept me. Duke wanted to do the transplant and so did UNC Chapel Hill, but because I had no finances and no guaranteed money for it, they wouldn’t do it.”

For now, it’s wait and see, dealing with everything from nailing down the hospital willing to operate to finding insurance that can cover it. 

But Cecil has faith. He says it’s gotten him this far: out of the hospital, and able to spend this Father’s day with his wife and children. 

“It is a wonderful feeling, because you know, in the hospital for so long I could not see or talk to my family,” he said, “It’s going to be good this year, especially because I know I could’ve been out of here – I could’ve left this world if God hadn’t had his hands on it.”

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