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Pittsburgh Dad Survives 317 Days In The Hospital, Double Lung Transplant

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Jim Kolovos filled his day with work, his hockey team, and his family until everything changed.

"I contracted COVID towards the end of February 2021, and I was admitted to hospital on March 2," said Kolovos, a Mars resident.

Just a few weeks shy of his first vaccine, he ended up at UPMC Presbyterian on a machine to keep his heart and lungs pumping.

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"It was truly terrible," he said. "Your oxygen level would be 100 percent, but I felt like it was 20 percent. All the shortness of breath, it was really, really tough."

After six months in the hospital with no improvement, he boarded a plane for Chicago. Dr. Ankit Bharat, a transplant surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, believed he could save the father of two.

"It really emphasizes that sometimes you just have to try," Bharat said. "And without trying, you don't know whether the patient is going to have a good outcome or not."

When other doctors wanted to withdraw care, Bharat scrubbed in for a double lung transplant.

"He was extremely motivated," the doctor said. "He had a very supportive family that was there with him, and that I think played a very big part in this outcome."

Kolovos survived the surgery, beating all the odds.

"When I was able to take clear breaths with my new lungs with no ventilator on, oh, my goodness, it was just amazing," Kolovos said.

Kolovos started rehab in Chicago, graduating from standing up to riding the bike to walking with two helpers.

"I made a commitment early on," he said. "I knew this was going to be a long road, but I was willing to fight very hard. I did not want to see my kids grow up without a dad and be sad and go through that."

Now, he is walking on his own, forever grateful to the doctors who believed in him, his kids and his wife, Lauren.

"I'm going to be in Chicago until the latter part of summer, maybe fall," Jim said. "So, I'm looking forward to that special moment when I get to get back home."

KDKA's Meghan Schiller asked him what he is craving from Pittsburgh.

"You're always craving a Primanti's sandwich. So, I'm sure that will be pretty quick for me to go to Primanti's. And I just can't wait to be back in my own house with my family and to enjoy how things used to be."

Jim hopes to be settled in his home before the first Steelers game hits the TV this fall.

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