Tampa General Hospital is marking a medical milestone, performing 700 lung transplants.
"Probably a total of 15 or 20 programs across the country that have been able to meet this milestone, it's a milestone that we provide for our community, to provide advanced care," said Dr. Kapil Patel, with Tampa General Hospital and University of South Florida.
Vez Hang is one of those 700 patients. He recently had a bilateral lung transplant. The 40-year-old is the first COVID-19 transplant patient at TGH.
"We're seeing more patients, younger patients with advanced lung disease developed in a short period of time from COVID and is non-reversible," said Patel, Director of the Center for Advanced Lung Disease and Lung Transplant Center.
"These patients are now confined to the hospital requiring high-oxygen requirements, will not be able to go home without a lung transplant."
Hang worked in the pharmaceutical industry with his girlfriend, a frontline worker. Hang says they moved their family to Tampa after struggling with the pandemic.
"She actually had to use garbage bags for PPE, they ran out," Hang said.
But the couple realized they couldn't escape the pandemic.
The two barely settled in before both tested positive for COVID-19.
"I was hesitant but looking back I should've gotten the vaccine," said Hang.
Hang spent a total of four months in hospitals.
Reuniting with his family was made possible because of a stranger's gift.
"Thank you, thank you for giving me life again, you know, to give me back to my family and I pray everyday that you're doing well up there in Heaven," he said.
"We wouldn't be able to do this without our donors, so at the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank all donors across the world for what they're allowing us to be able to do and save lives," said Dr. Patel. "But for our recipients, they have a second chance at life because of you."
"I'm living life carefully but I'm doing everything with my family, doing the things that I missed out on for the four months that I was in the hospital," said Hang, whose prognosis is good.
For more information on organ donation, click here.