Double lung transplant COVID-19 survivor reflects on rising hospitalizations and deaths, offers advice

LAKE ZURICH, Ill. (WLS) -- For COVID-19 survivor Brian Kuhns, life is hospital visits, physical therapy, and months after his rare double lung transplant at Northwestern Memorial, an effort to heal.

"I'm still not sleeping. I can't eat. I have no appetite, I can't taste anything. I'm eating 40 pills a day," Kuhns said.

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From March to September, Kuhns was hospitalized, isolated from friends and family, kept from work at his auto repair shop. He wants to save people from that same fate or worse.



From March to September, Kuhns was in the hospital, isolated from friends and family, kept from work at his auto repair shop here in Schaumburg. He said he wants to save people from that same fate or worse.

"I just don't know why we're getting rising cases. People should know better by now," he said.

As of Wednesday night, 5,258 COVID-19 patients are in Illinois hospital beds, the most on record yet. Deaths nationwide are climbing. And for Brian and his family, watching the numbers go up is heartbreaking.

"After seeing everything he went through, I still don't understand why people are fighting the mask," said Nancy Kuhns, Brian's wife. "Actually you're taking someone else's life by doing this. What is so hard about wearing a mask?"

"You gotta wear it, boneheads," Kuhns said. "Do it for the other guy!"

At the beginning of the year, Kuhns weighed 225 lbs., could walk normally, and had his own lungs. Then, he got COVID-19, lost 76 lbs., needed new lungs, and uses a wheelchair. His message as hospitalizations and deaths rise is simple.

"Wear your mask, keep your distance, do what they say to do. Wash your hands. Do all that stuff. And anything else they ask of you. Because you don't want to get this thing," he said.

The Kuhns family is now facing $2 million worth of medical bills. They have started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to pay them.
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