PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Jim Kolovos filled his day with work, his hockey team and his family until everything changed.
“I contracted COVID around the end of February 2021 and was admitted to hospital on March 2,” said Mars resident Kolovos.
READ MORE: Pittsburgh police are looking for missing 13-year-old Keenu Brooks
Weeks away from his first shot, he found himself at UPMC Presbyterian on a machine to run his heart and lungs.
“It was really terrible,” he said. “Your oxygen level would be 100 per cent, but I felt like it was 20 per cent. All the shortness of breath, it was really, really hard.
After six months in the hospital with no improvement, he flew to Chicago. Dr Ankit Bharat, a transplant surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, believed he could save the father-of-two.
“It really highlights that sometimes you just have to try,” Bharat said. “And without trying, you don’t know whether the patient is going to have a good outcome or not.”
When other doctors wanted to interrupt care, Bharat showed up for a double lung transplant.
“He was extremely motivated,” the doctor said. “He had a very supportive family who were there with him and who I think played a very big part in that result.”
READ MORE: Kids Of Steel: Hundreds of children go out and beat the children’s marathon
Kolovos survived the operation, beating all odds.
“When I was able to breathe clearly with my new ventilator-free lungs, oh my god, it was just amazing,” Kolovos said.
Kolovos began rehab in Chicago, going from standing to cycling to walking with two aides.
“I made a commitment from the start,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a long road, but I was ready to fight really hard. I didn’t want to see my kids growing up without a father and being sad and going through that.
Now he walks alone, forever grateful to the doctors who believed in him, his children and his wife, Lauren.
“I’m going to be in Chicago until late summer, maybe fall,” Jim said. “So I’m looking forward to that special moment when I can go home.”
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller asked him what he wanted from Pittsburgh.
“You always want a Primati’s sandwich. So I’m sure it will be pretty quick for me to go to Primati. And I just can’t wait to be back in my own house with my family and enjoying the way things used to be.
NO MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh weather: Scattered rain showers and snow move in overnight
Jim hopes to be settled in his home before the Steelers’ first game airs on television this fall.