Man lucky to be alive after double-lung transplant at Phoenix hospital

Nov 13, 2020, 4:25 AM | Updated: 9:29 pm
(Dignity Health Photo)...
(Dignity Health Photo)
(Dignity Health Photo)

PHOENIX — Arthur Sanchez believes it’s a miracle that he’s still alive.

On Easter, he was admitted to a hospital in Las Cruces, New Mexico, because of complications after contracting coronavirus.

Eight days later, a breathing tube was placed in his lungs. Over the next four months, he didn’t take a breath on his own and his condition worsened.

Sanchez, 52, spent a total of 93 days on a special system that provides heart-lung bypass.

Even so, doctors believed his lungs were damaged and scarred beyond repair.

Sanchez’s last hope? A double-lung transplant that would have to be performed 400 miles away at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.

“I’m not afraid to die because I have a firm belief in God, but I didn’t want to leave my girls behind,” Sanchez said.

On Aug. 16, Sanchez received the double lung transplant at St. Joseph’s Norton Thoracic Institute that is said to have saved his life.

He’s now breathing fresh air and has reunited with his family after a total of 116 days on a ventilator and 147 days hospitalized.

“I was one of those people that was kind of shying off the COVID thing, saying it’s nothing big,” Sanchez admitted. “I was a healthy individual other than being a little overweight and having high blood pressure.”

Sanchez, a husband and father of two, believes his story could be a cautionary tale.

His family — notably his mother, wife, sister, and brother-in-law — was hit hard by the virus.

His brother-in-law unfortunately passed away due to complications from coronavirus.

“It’s important to use this story as some sort of tool to help you guys put it in perspective, and I’m looking forward to my future with my family and getting back home to green and red chile,” Sanchez said.

St. Joseph’s Norton Thoracic Institute is home to one of the nation’s busiest and top-ranked lung transplant programs.

It has now become the third program in the United States to perform a lifesaving double-lung transplant for someone with a history of COVID-19.

For the past 28 years, Sanchez has worked for El Paso Electric.

During a press conference at Dignity Health in Phoenix, he thanked his company for their support and said he looks forward to getting back to work.

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(Sara Baird/Dignity Health) (Sara Baird/Dignity Health) (Sara Baird/Dignity Health) (Sara Baird/Dignity Health) (Sara Baird/Dignity Health) (Sara Baird/Dignity Health) (Sara Baird/Dignity Health) (Sara Baird/Dignity Health)

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Man lucky to be alive after double-lung transplant at Phoenix hospital