CLEVELAND – Kalil Masri, who is a cardiologist from Michigan, has a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.
“I know my stay in the hospital was some 230 days combined, all the hospitals,” said Masri.
He contracted COVID-19 last year and would eventually need a double lung transplant.
“Just being in the medical field, I never said why did this happen to me. I was just trying to be realistic. I was always optimistic. I always had a smile. Everybody would tell you, I would be on a vent smiling,” he said.
Masri got sick before he had the chance to get vaccinated. The virus quickly took hold of his body and before he knew it, he was fighting for his life in the ICU.
“When he arrived in our ICU, he was actually quite ill, mechanically ventilated and we had to almost immediately had to put him on an ECMO just to stabilize him and sustain him,” explained James Yun, MD, lung transplant surgeon for Cleveland Clinic.
He said Masri was transferred here at the request of his family.
“When he first came, he was not a candidate for transplant. He was actually too sick. However, with our ICU team, nurses, respiratory therapists working on him for a good probably six or seven weeks, we were actually able to get him in position to be considered eligible,” said Dr. Yun.
A couple of weeks later, Masri was able to find a donor and was immediately taken into surgery.
Everything went well, but recovery proved to be a challenge.
“There were still many hurdles and he needed a couple of procedures to eventually transition off the ventilator,” said Dr. Yun.
Masri said it was a tough battle, but he never gave up and he has his family and medical staff to thank for that.
“Occupational therapy, physical therapy, all the nurses, the aides, everybody plays a big role. I am telling you,” said Masri. “We as doctors don’t see it as much but behind those doors and what they do every day, every night, every second with you, it counts.”
He also has a message for those who haven’t been vaccinated yet.
“Be considerate to others around you, get vaccinated,” he said.