PHOENIX — Arthur Sanchez was grateful to the men and women that gave him a new lease on life.
“Without any of the medical professionals, I wouldn’t be here today," he said in a virtual press conference on Thursday from St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. "I’m a fighter and I’m a strong believer in faith. I think I’m a walking miracle.”
Like many across the country, Sanchez didn't take the virus seriously, dismissing it as something like the flu.
Until he got it in his hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico back in April.
“I started feeling bad. I developed a fever and chills, so I told my wife, given the COVID, I better go to the hospital,” he said.
His condition kept getting worse.
From the MountainView Regional Medical Center in Las Cruces, he was sent to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque for further treatment.
It was there where he was placed on an ECMO machine, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, which essentially takes over for failing lungs.
Even with that treatment, his lungs were so severely scarred from the infection, that the only way he would survive was through a double lung transplant.
That's where the Norton Thoracic Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix comes in.
Sanchez again went through more treatment there and became the third person in the country to receive a double lung transplant, after battling the coronavirus.
Dr. Samad Hashimi, a thoracic surgeon at St. Joseph's, says that Sanchez's grit and fortitude made him the perfect candidate for the procedure.
Grit. Fortitude. Strong. Sanchez Strong.
It's a message he wants to take with him to show others to take this virus seriously.
"It’s important to use this story as some sort of tool to help you guys put it in perspective,” he said.
Doctors will continue to monitor Sanchez's recovery for the next year, but this Saturday, he and his family will be allowed to return home to Las Cruces.