Randy McIntyre, 58, reflects on a moment with his doctor when he learned his lungs were permanently damaged from COVID-19.

“I asked the question. I said ‘So there’s no bouncing back from this?’

The doctor said “No, there’s not.”

“I was healthy working – going to work every day,” McIntyre said. “I was just one of the unfortunate ones who this really tackled.”

It started with his loss of taste and smell, then a cough and difficulty breathing before things took a turn for the worse.

McIntyre explains when his condition began to become more serious, “The left lung even collapsed when I was in Rock Island after I went into a big coughing fit. Five chest tubes later, then there you go. We’re heading to Iowa City to see what’s wrong with me.”

Doctor’s described McIntyre’s lungs as looking like shattered glass from all the scarring.

“More like crystallized, with broken glass, that’s all the scarring in it,” McIntyre said. He then discovered he would be having the first COVID-19-related double-lung transplant the University of Iowa Hospitals have performed.

The procedure was a success. McIntyre looks forward to his future with his new set of healthy lungs. “After waking up and taking your first breath of air, that was great.”

McIntyre says he always makes sure to follow COVID-19 safety precautions. His friends and family know he always masks up when in public. He is careful about where he visits publicly. As he heals, he plans to continue to listen to advice from medical professionals, which could mean vaccination.

“If you want it get it, if you don’t, that’s your choice,” he said. “Hopefully you stay safe and don’t end up in the position I ended up in.”