COVID long-hauler may need a lung transplant

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Lisa Johnston is considered a COVID-19 long-hauler.

She began experiencing symptoms in May, tested positive for the virus in June and now may need a lung transplant.

Johnston is unable to walk on her own. She only leaves her home for medical appointments.

"I’ve gone through a lot of bouts of pneumonia, and just being sick all the time," she said. "I can’t get healthy."

Johnston needs supplemental oxygen.

"When we go somewhere, we have to be prepared with oxygen tanks, the wheelchair, ’cause you don’t know if you’re gonna be stuck in traffic or get in an accident, because my tanks only last me about an hour," she said.

Johnston said going to rehab has felt impossible.

"They wanted to get me in a chair class, basically to start moving my system to get my arms moving, so my breathing would get opened up better," she said. "And I just couldn’t do the exercises. I’ve run out of steam so fast. I was so tired."

At times, she feels hopeless.

"There’s nothing else I can do but sit here and hope that we find a cure, or possibly a double lung transplant is what we’re possibly looking at, so it just changes your life completely," Johnston said.

Johnston found a virtual support group that’s helping her cope with the trauma.

"It’s called Long Haulers, we all kind of are from around the cities and states around America, and we kind of give each other supporting tips, and if we’re all going through the similar kind of like the no taste. The (brain) fogginess," she said.

"It kind of gives us all a sense of we’re not alone, that there are other people going through this," Johnston added.

Johnston hopes sharing her story will encourage people will take the virus seriously, follow public health measures and get the vaccine when it’s their turn.

"It’s important to get your shots, it’s important if you have COVID to get tested or, or whatever you need to do because it really does affect your whole life. I’m 46 years old, and this has taken my life from the last year," Johnston said.

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