AURORA, COLORADO — Bryan Raymond's journey started late last year. "It’s been a long road but I’m getting stronger each day," Raymond said.
On December 9, he was having trouble breathing and went to an emergency department. That night, he was flown to Billings Clinic. Just days earlier, Raymond had tested positive for COVID-19. The man from Malta spent the next month in Billings, missing Christmas with his four children.
"It was tough. Trinity FaceTime'd in so I could watch the kids opening presents but it was tough," Raymond said of his wife.
His wife Trinity wasn't allowed to see him during most of his care: "That was hard, to not be able to see him and be with him."
By early January, the virus had nearly destroyed Bryan's lungs. That's when he was moved to the University of Colorado Hospital. "There were times when we just didn't if he was going to make it. So, just wondering every day if he’s going to live and just knowing that my kids are two states away," Trinity said.
When the ventilator was no longer working, Dr. Mark Steele and his team placed Bryan on an ECMO machine. "What happens is as the lungs become so bad, the ventilator can’t oxygenate them, so it’s not enough. The ECMO circuit does a lot the ventilator wouldn't," said Dr. Steele.
Not long after Bryan's arrival, Dr. Steele and his team realized Bryan's lungs wouldn't make it much longer but given his extensive bout with COVID, the risks were there. "We had a criteria that he had to be able to stand and walk and it took another two or three weeks to basically bring him out of a drug-induced coma," explained Dr. Steele.
The doctors saw enough to sign off on the first COVID-19-related lung transplant in Colorado. For Trinity Raymond, seeing her husband walk was a moment of hope. "I think it just opened his eyes that he was going to be able to walk again," Trinity said.
On March 6, Bryan Raymond received two new lungs. "I couldn't have got through it without prayer and without God on my side," said Bryan.
Bryan must once again learn how to walk and on top of that, bills are mounting. "He doesn’t get a paycheck right now and like I said, the rest of the world doesn’t stop even when your world stops," said Trinity Raymond.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family; it reads, in part:
Surgery was successful and Bryan is doing well and continuing to work hard in physical therapy and occupational therapy, he has now been moved out of the ICU, but is still in the hospital. We are hoping in the next week Bryan will be moving to the rehab floor in the hospital. The hope after that is after 7-14 days Bryan will be released from the hospital. Once he is released Bryan will be required to stay in Denver a minimum of 3 more months, and once released to go home he will have to make monthly trips back to Denver for doctor appointments.