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The fight for a father’s life: Bureau County man needs lung transplant after surviving COVID-19

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At age 57, Jaime Serrano was in good health, but after contracting COVID-19 he spent weeks on a ventilator and now needs a lung transplant to survive.

DEPUE, Illinois — A Bureau County man is fighting for his life after COVID-19 badly damaged his lungs. After weeks on a ventilator and under sedation, he is awake, and hopeful for a life-saving lung transplant.

Late last year, 57-year-old Jaime Serrano was in good health and a provider for his family. Then, several members of his family contracted COVID around the New Year. 

In a video posted to social media, his family can be heard asking him in English and in Spanish, “Do you want to keep on living?” He can be seen nodding his head, yes.

“We wanted to ask him, ‘do you want us to keep fighting for you? Do you want to keep living?’ And he said, ‘yes,'” said his daughter, Vee Garcia, who posted the video online to spread the word about her father.

After checking into the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria in mid-January, Serrano was first put on a ventilator, then an ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a method which allows blood to “bypass” the heart and lungs, allowing the organs to rest and heal.

“We were told that there’s no hope for recovery on his own lungs. And a lung transplant is the only thing left,” Garcia said.

Serrano’s family initiated a request to transplant centers at the beginning of February. After weeks of delays and requests for more tests, at least four hospitals rejected the request for different reasons.

“They told us, ‘you know what, we’ve reached out to four locations, they’ve all said no, your dad can’t stay on ECMO forever, so we have to disconnect him.’ That was a big shock to us because he’s awake,” Garcia said. 

In the late ’80s, Garcia was just a young girl when her father moved the young family to DePue, Illinois from Mexico for brighter opportunities in the United States. Now, she says, her family is fighting for his life. 

“And that’s just what we’re asking, the public’s help to guide us, to reach out, to spread the word,” Garcia said. “In hopes that someone will see his story. That someone will know a doctor, will know a surgeon.”

Serrano’s family set up a GoFundMe page to help in the fight for his life. Click here for the link.