(NewsNation) — This Christmas will be like no other for Tim Cornett and his wife Jeannie.
As the holiday approaches, they’re home in Indiana, where they’ll celebrate the holiday with family and a new grandson. A few months ago, however, Tim Cornett’s outlook was less bright.
At that time, the 55-year-old was surrounded by machines and doctors, and he was told there was a possibility he wouldn’t make it to Christmas.
“I couldn’t breathe at all, even with the oxygen that I had,” he said. “I could not maintain my oxygen over 60%.”
Tim tested positive for COVID-19 in January. He then took a quick turn for the worse, eventually requiring a medically induced coma in order to receive a lung transplant. But as doctors began, they said he was too weak for the surgery.
It got worse.
After a few weeks, doctors wanted to take Tim off the ventilator. Jeannie said no.
“They told me all he needed was lungs,” she said. “I’m like, OK, if that’s all we need, then find me lungs.”
The search took them from Indiana to Miami, where Jackson Memorial Hospital’s lung center physicians agreed to treat Tim.
“From a lung standpoint, he was with no function whatsoever. He was on the verge of death,” Dr. Juan Salgado, the critical care lead at the JMH Lung Center, said.
After months in a hospital bed and a careful transfer from Indiana to Florida, Cornett had a double-lung transplant in July, after which, for the first time in almost a year, he was able to take a deep breath.
“To be able to take my first breath without oxygen or a machine to help me was overwhelming,” he said. “I was breathing on my own and I hadn’t done that in a year.”
He went through rehab, and after more than 170 days in Florida, made it home in October with a new lease on life and a fresh perspective this holiday season.
“My outlook on life, my priorities, have changed a lot. I missed my oldest son getting married. We missed everything, and all the milestones that we should be watching, and we didn’t,” he said.
He gives a lot of credit to the doctors at Jackson, who took a chance on him, and of course, to Jeannie, who refused to let the ventilator keeping her husband alive to be unplugged.
Jeannie told NewsNation that if she hadn’t found the doctors in Miami, she would’ve buried her husband in February.
Now, as a family, they will get to celebrate another Christmas together.