COVID-19 Survivor Speaks Out After Double Lung Transplant

Colby Vondenstein was hospitalized with COVID-19 after a family Christmas gathering.

Before being diagnosed with COVID-19, Colby Vondenstein was a healthy 24-year-old with no underlying health conditions. But following a Christmas gathering in Harris County, Texas, almost everyone in his family caught the virus. All of them recovered, except Colby, who was hospitalized.

Now he’s speaking out after receiving a double lung and kidney transplant after severe complications from the disease. “I never expected to be going through what I am going through right now,” Vondenstein said.

The father of three is now making progress step by step and is sharing his story with the hopes of getting other young people to take the virus seriously.

Like Colby, 16-year-old Jose Luis Chavez also needed a double lung transplant after a severe case of COVID-19.

“They told him he had a 5% chance of living,” his mom, Anna, said. “And he was sick — very, very sick.”

Dr. Gabriel Loor saved the teen.

“His case was a little bit scary, because he is a young man, just 16 years old, and he came over in a shape where he was on advanced life support. Then it became obvious with time it was getting worse and worse,” Loor said.

The operation was a success, but he will have to be on medication for the rest of his life to prevent his body from rejecting the organs. 

“The younger populations are not yet vaccinated. They don’t have herd immunity. And so they’re susceptible to this virus. It’s not surprising to see rates start to rise in this population,” epidemiologist Dr. Anne Rimoin told Inside Edition.

The doctor we spoke to believes there’s a good chance that both young men will need new lungs in about 10 years.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help cover Vondenstein's medical costs.