Ravaged by COVID, Oklahoma fire captain gets 2nd chance at life after double lung transplant in Phoenix

A 44-year-old man diagnosed with COVID-19 is overcoming a months-long battle.

Randy Blake was diagnosed with COVID-19 four months ago, and was on a ventilator and a lung machine for nearly two months.

At one point, Blake didn't think he was going to make it.

"The doctors eventually said if you survive this, your life is going to look like a wheelchair and being on oxygen for the rest of your life," said Blake, a fire captain from Stillwater, Okla.

Blake's only option for survival was to undergo a double-lung transplant at a Phoenix hospital. Earlier in February, he received a new set of lungs at St. Joeseph’s Hospital, and he was discharged on Feb. 26.

COVID ravaged Blake's lungs.

One of Blake's doctors in Oklahoma had a colleague at St. Joe’s Norton Thoracic Institute. Blake was flown to the Valley in January. Earlier in February, a pair of lungs became available, and Blake underwent a double-lung transplant surgery.

"I mean, they saved my life. They did such an amazing job. I’m so grateful. They gave me a second chance at life," said Blake. "At this point, it’s gone fantastic. I’m not using any oxygen, which is a big deal. I’m able to walk. The rehab process is slow. Just gotta keep at it. Just keep grinding."

Blake's doctors now expect him to be able to continue living his life without having to use an oxygen tank.

"A lot of the recovery after lung transplant is psychological rather than physical," said Dr. Tokman. "You’ve got to push yourself through a lot of discomforts. You have to push yourself through a lot of weakness, and Randy is doing just that."

Blake still has to go through outpatient rehab for the next several weeks, and he hopes to be able to go back home to Oklahoma and reunite with his four kids by May.

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COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19


https://espanol.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19


https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/es/covid-19/index.php#novel-coronavirus-home (In Spanish/En Español)