Milwaukee UMOS member in need of double-lung transplant after contracting coronavirus

NOW: Milwaukee UMOS member in need of double-lung transplant after contracting coronavirus

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A beloved member of a Milwaukee community is fighting for her life after contracting coronavirus.

Carmen Lerma says the virus destroyed her lungs and she's in need of a double-lung transplant.

Lerma is an event organizer for UMOS on Milwaukee's south side. She's used to helping people in every way she can. 

Now, she needs some help of her own. 

Lerma spoke with us from her hospital room at UW-Health in Madison. She has been hospitalized since July.

She was rushed to the ER after she passed out. 

"I remember opening my eyes in the ICU with all kinds of cords, machines, and the doctor said to me I was lucky because I had only 31% oxygen level in my body," Lerma said. "Basically to be brain dead or in a coma."

Lerma has lost over 40 pounds, has blisters on her face from the ventilator mask and consumes protein shakes through a straw.

She no longer has coronavirus, but the virus damaged her lungs.

She now needs a double-lung transplant.

"There are days that are so bad that I can't even breathe and they have me on 100% oxygen," Lerma said. 

She considers herself lucky that she's been able to fight this long, and she's sharing her story because she wants people to take coronavirus seriously.

"I see people out in the community not wearing a mask and I sit here and I get so angry because they say oh, it's just like the flu. No, this is not a flu, you're lucky if you get mild symptoms...Three months in the hospital now. Not being able to see your family, it's really challenging."

Carmen Lerma is still waiting for her double-lung transplant.

Her friends have set up a fundraiser to help with medical costs. To learn more, click here.

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