One of Michigan’s first coronavirus (COVID-19) patients shares survival story

Dewyse had a double lung transplant prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19

One of Michigan’s first coronavirus (COVID-19) patients was diagnosed more than a month ago.

LIVONIA, Mich. – One of Michigan’s first coronavirus (COVID-19) patients was diagnosed more than a month ago.

He is a 57-year-old from Livonia with an underlying condition. He had a double lung transplant and wasn’t sure he’d survive coronavirus.

When Paul Dewyse got to University of Michigan Hospital on March 9 he wasn’t thinking about coronavirus.

Related: University of Michigan Health starts reporting number of discharged COVID-19 patients

All he knew was that he had flu-like symptoms and because he’d recently had a double lung transplant it meant he needed to get to a hospital.

“The body aches were just excruciating. I mean, it was, it was like having the flu times 10,” he said.

Dewyse had received bad medical news before, but after his double lung transplant the coronavirus was a devastating diagnosis.

“All I could think is, ‘This is it.’ You know, I got lucky and I was blessed with my lung transplant,” he said. “I mean, it was not easy. I will admit that I actually, you know, burst out crying. I’m just like, ‘You gotta be kidding me.’ And I was all alone.”

He was unable to see his wife and three daughters.

“It was hard. I mean, it almost, it gives me goosebumps. Even thinking about it brings tears to my eyes because it’s just a terrible feeling. I mean, that’s all there is to it. It’s just, it’s heartbreaking. It was heartbreaking for them because they couldn’t see me," he said.

You’d think a virus that attacks the lungs would put someone like Dewyse in grave danger. As his doctor Dennis Lyu explains -- Dewyse no longer had the failing lungs of a 57-year-old, he had the healthy lungs of a 27-year-old.

“In a way it’s good he had the transplant because it probably saved him,” Lyu said.

“It’s just the best people ever so I have, you know, I’m just thankful for all the other people thankful to be alive. And I just feel really blessed,” Dewyse said. “That’s the bottom line. I am a happy camper. I got some life left in me.”

Dewyse has been out of the hospital for about a month and while everyone else is cooped up at home he’s thankful to be alive. He takes five mile walks and cooks dinners for his family.

More: Michigan COVID-19 data

About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.