MIAMI (WSVN) – An Indiana man who spent most of 2022 in the hospital, with many thinking he may not make it, is now well enough to be home for the holidays, thanks to life-saving surgery he received at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
The medical team at JMH’s Miami Transplant Institute on Friday spoke about performing the surgery that saved the life of 55-year-old Tim Cornett.
“He was on the verge of death,” said Dr. Juan Salgado with Miami Transplant Institute.
The medical team also helped to oversee Cornett’s road to recovery after he spent nearly a year in the intensive care unit battling complications from COVID-19.
Cornett was released from the hospital back in October after fighting for his life since January, when doctors said he tested positive for COVID-19 while home in Indiana.
By March, doctors said, his lungs were rapidly beginning to fail.
Despite being in good health, Salgado said, Cornett’s chance of survival was slim.
“From a lung standpoint, he was with no function whatsoever,” said Salgado, “so he was 100% dependent on just the ventilator.”
To save his life, Cornett’s doctors reffered him to the Miami Transplant Institute, where they hoped he’d be eligible for a double lung transplant.
But getting him there proved to be difficult.
“I went to him, and I said, ‘They have to vent you,’ and he didn’t want the vent, and I’m like, ‘There’s no way they’re going to be able to move you,’” said his wife, Jeannie Cornett, “so finally, he just said, ‘Well, you can put me on the vent, but don’t let me die.’”
After making the risky journey to South Florida, the patient began intense physical therapy to prep him for the eight-hour surgery.
“Just getting into the chest cavity, entering the chest cavity is difficult, because once you enter, you just see the lung completely stuck all over the rib cage,” said Dr. Tiago Manchuca with Miami Transplant Institute.
Now Cornett is breathing much better and back home with his family in Indiana.
“Ecstatic. Thanksgiving was very special, and Christmas is going to be even more special,” he said. “It definitely changes your perspective. A lot of the things that I thought were important no longer are. Now the priority is the time that I spend with my family.”
Cornett said he is grateful for his doctors who saved his life, just in time for the holidays.
Cornett’s family said he made it home just in time for the birth of his grandchild.
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