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Tualatin man gets lung transplant after COVID infection; community rallies to help

A relentless case of COVID-19 led to a lung transplant for Steve Whitaker. A fundraiser on Sunday, Aug. 28 will help him financially on the long road to recovery.

DAMASCUS, Ore — A Tualatin man recently underwent a lung transplant after a harsh bout with COVID-19. Now, the community is rallying around him with a fundraiser at Ruzzo's Retreat on August 28 to support him financially during his recovery.

At the beginning of 2022, Steven Whitaker was a healthy 53-year-old man. He ate well, worked out regularly and never smoked. In February, a COVID-19 diagnosis changed that.

After a few trips to the emergency room, he was admitted to the hospital. On February 22, Whitaker went into the intensive care unit with COVID, a staph infection and bacterial pneumonia. His mother, Darlyne Aleksich, says he has not been home since. 

Credit: Steven Whitaker

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"There was a time in March when the family was summoned together and said he probably won’t live more than two days," Aleksich said. "He was very sick." 

Doctors determined that Whitaker needed a lung transplant. He fought hard to be well enough, and on June 25 he was transferred from Portland to Stanford University to get medical approval and was put on the lung transplant list. 

On August 13 he finally got his transplant. 

While Whitaker has insurance from his decades working at UPS, his relocation and housing pre- and post-transplant are not covered. He will need to live near Stanford for three to four months after the procedure and will have to pay for caregivers while he recovers. 

Credit: Ruzzo's Retreat

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To help him in his recovery, friends and family are holding a fundraiser on Sunday, August 28 at Ruzzo's Retreat in Damascus, Oregon. There will be a corn hole competition, live music, food and drinks. 

Anyone interested in pitching in can also donate directly to Whitaker at his Help Hope Live fundraising website.

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