A 25-year-old who had to get a double lung transplant due to COVID-19 said his lungs look like 'chewed up pieces of bubblegum'
Blake Bargatze in the hospital on July 14, 2021. Blake Bargatze / Cheryl Nuclo
A Georgia man had a double lung transplant in April after contracting COVID-19.
Blake Bargatze had no underlying health problems but was not vaccinated before falling ill.
The 25-year-old told Insider the virus made his lungs look like "chewed pieces of gum".
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A 25-year-old man who had a double lung transplant in April after contracting COVID-19 said the virus made his lungs look like "chewed pieces of gum".
Georgia-based Blake Bargatze, who had no underlying health problems, was admitted to intensive care earlier this year after becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus.
During his stay, his condition worsened and the doctors told him to survive, he needed a new lung. In June he received a double lung transplant.
The 25-year-old told Insider he was shocked at how quickly COVID-19 attacked his body.
"It just ate my lungs," he said. "They literally looked like chewed pieces of gum when they took them out. They were littered with holes. I was just lucky not to have multiple organ failures."
Bargatze is one of the few people to have successfully received a double lung transplant due to the coronavirus, which has killed more than 687,000 Americans to date, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University.
He believes he contracted the virus at a concert in Florida in March, which he now regrets. Although he was wearing a mask, he was not vaccinated at the time.
That's partly because he wasn't eligible for a vaccination yet, but also because he wanted to wait and, according to his mother, was concerned about the side effects.
She told WXIA, "He wanted to wait for it to be outside for about 10 years or so, just as much of the population would like it to be outside longer."
But now the 25-year-old is urging other people to get vaccinated.
“I'm trying to make people aware of what can realistically happen to this virus. It's just not worth the risk, ”he told Insider.
He also said that many people are still "inconsiderate" even though the highly contagious Delta variant continues to cause spikes in hospital admissions, especially among those who have not been vaccinated.
But life is looking good for the 25-year-old, who is hoping to get back to his favorite hobbies soon, including fishing and pool with friends. He is scheduled to go back to work this week, which he thinks is "a great achievement".
Despite still taking 50 pills a day, Bargate is happy to be able to walk again and is "grateful to be alive". Since then, he has also had his two COVID-19 vaccinations.
A GoFundMe page has since been set up to help Bargatze's family pay his medical bills.
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