24-year-old who needed double lung transplant wishes he'd been vaccinated for COVID-19

A 24-year-old Georgia man who contracted COVID-19 and required a double lung transplant, and who remains hospitalized, has expressed his regret he did not get vaccinated for the virus, which has so far killed more than 607,000 Americans.

Blake Bargatze had told his parents he was putting off receiving a COVID-19 vaccine because he felt uncertain about its possible side effects, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported.

“He wanted to wait a few years to see, you know, if there’s any side effects or anything from it,” said Paul Nuclo, his stepfather. “As soon as he got in the hospital, though, he said he wished he had gotten the vaccine.”

Bargatze was the only member of his family who passed on getting vaccinated, Cheryl Nuclo, his mother, told Fox 5 Atlanta. Once hospitalized, however, he asked to be inoculated.

“The night before he was intubated, he wanted it,” Nuclo said. “So it was a little bit too late then.”

Bargatze, who had no preexisting medical conditions and has endured prolonged intensive care stays at hospitals in three different states over the last three months, believes he contracted COVID-19 during an April visit to Florida.

“He had called me that Friday when he got the results,” Bargatze's mother told WSB-TV, “and he’s like, ‘Mom, you’re going to be mad. I got COVID.’”

A GoFundMe page set up by Bargatze’s friends is raising money to help cover his medical bills.

Blake Bargatze (GoFundMe)
Blake Bargatze. (GoFundMe)

“He was initially admitted to ICU at St. Mary’s in West Palm Beach, FL on April 10th, and then he was air transported to Piedmont Atlanta Hospital on April 24th to be placed on ECMO,” the GoFundMe page states, referring to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine. “Many complications occurred during his hospital stay that caused extensive damage to his lungs, requiring the need for a double lung transplant to survive. Blake was transferred to the University of Maryland Medical Center on June 12th. He remains on the ventilator and ECMO as he waits for the lung transplant.”

Thanks to the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the number of new cases has increased nationwide by a staggering 109 percent over the last two weeks. Deaths from the disease, which had fallen precipitously as more Americans were vaccinated for it, have also begun ticking back up as vaccination rates have stalled.

Bargatze’s mother said her son wants vaccine skeptics to learn from what happened to him and to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

“Maybe if some people were kind of on the fence and swaying, he wants them to see what might be the extreme of what can happen,” she told WSB. “Not using a fear tactic — but it can happen.”


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