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Butler County man with COVID needs lung transplant to survive

Matt Kemp is a husband and a father-of-three.
Matt Kemp is a husband a father-of-three.
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 9:26 PM EST
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A West Chester man with with a life-threatening case of COVID-19 needs a lung transplant to survive.

Matt Kemp, 39, is a father of three, ages 16, 9 and 6.

Matt’s symptoms began around Thanksgiving, according to his wife, Angela Kemp. Matt was hospitalized and later intubated at UC West Chester.

“I thought him being intubated was going to be hell,” Angela said. “That is not hell. Hell is showing up for Christmas, and the machine not working, and his eyes rolling in the back of his head.”

[Angela declined to say whether Matt is vaccinated, explaining that if he were not, people might attack them, and if he were, people might say the vaccine doesn’t work.]

Things continued to get worse. Matt was in and out of consciousness for weeks. Eventually he was transported to a facility in the Ohio State University hospital system to receive a treatment called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, which oxygenates blood outside the body.

It was scary, says Angela, but it worked. Matt is awake and can talk. He took the first steps of his two-month hospital stay on Friday, Angela say. But they’re not out of the woods by a long shot.

“He’s on two life supports, so he could crumble at any time,” she said.

Matt also needs a lung transplant, something Angela can hardly bear to think about.

“It’s awful to think that someone has to die for my husband to live,” she said.

But Matt’s lungs have collapsed four times already.

“We need it ASAP to try to keep him alive and not have any other issues happen, because his lungs are just not working,” Angela said.

Matt got on the lung transplant waiting list Jan. 18. They have no idea when he might get one.

“The pain of waiting is awful,” Angela said.

Though she says it feels sometimes like a bad dream, Angela offers she’s grateful for those helping her husband.

“I’m very fortunate, and he’s very fortunate, to have OSU fight for these two months to keep him alive,” she said.

A fundraiser has been created for the family.

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