SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Jose Sosa had a lot of time to think about life, his future, and his past during his five-month hospital stay, but he can’t pinpoint exactly how he got COVID-19. Did he get too close to people? Did he not wash his hands enough? Was he careless with his mask?
Six weeks after becoming the first COVID-19 patient in South Texas to receive a double-lung transplant, the 39-year-old former gardening store employee and part-time D.J. who worked at bars and special events, is warning others.
“Quit pretending that it’s fake. Protect yourself, protect your family,”said the Corpus Christi resident.
Last summer, he developed shortness of breath, headaches, diarrhea, and loss of taste and smell–typical coronavirus symptoms. He didn’t know he was diabetic until he was admitted to a Corpus Christi hospital July 4th as COVID-19 cases were surging, but his condition worsened and he was transferred to Methodist Hospital in San Antonio where he was placed on an ECMO machine to regulate his oxygen levels.
As his condition continued to deteriorate, he was evaluated for a lung transplant by a team at the University Health Transplant Center.
“It became clear over time (Sosa) was not going to recover from this,” said Dr. Edward Sako, surgical director for the lung transplant program. “That’s how we came to the conclusion he would be a candidate for lung transplant.”
Sako performed the transplant surgery in October and Sosa finally went home Dec. 2. He said he’s getting stronger everyday, but he’s still getting adjusted to his new lungs.
“I feel very blessed and thankful, grateful. I’m happy to be alive, honestly, not just for me, but for my family, my kids,” said Sosa.
He never thought he would get the virus, but he wants others to know that it can happen to anybody.
“Everybody thinks they’re superman and untouchable and stuff like that, but believe me, it’s not true,” said Sosa. “This could be you. Just be careful.”
He’s urging everyone to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and watch your social distance.
“Do whatever you can to protect yourself. This is not a joke,” said Sosa.
He’s anxious to get back to work and is worried about his family’s financial situation, but his immune system is compromised, so he’s staying at home in isolation–doctor’s orders. Sosa says he’s learned a hard lesson and he’s following his physicians’ instructions.
“If they say stay away from people, I”m staying away from people,” said Sosa.