PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — With the coronavirus pandemic now in its 18th month, chances have increased that many Americans know someone who has died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Johns Hopkins University just released a new report that shows one of every 500 Americans has died from COVID-19. That death rate represents 0.2% of the U.S. population.
Early this year, popular Virginia Beach DJ Dave Champion almost became a statistic.
On Feb. 16, one day after receiving a double lung transplant at UVA Hospital the former U.S. Navy man was able to walk with assistance in the halls of the transplant unit. He caught the coronavirus early last year before the mysterious respiratory illness was declared a pandemic. In 2020, with doctor visits after doctor visits, he was repeatedly misdiagnosed.
“About 11 months, I was being told I had pneumonia and the flu for the longest. They were giving me antibiotics and none of the stuff was working,” said Champion.
By the time local doctors figured out what was wrong, it was almost too late. Champion was placed on a machine that supplies oxygen to the blood.
“The ECMO machine takes blood out of your body and oxidizes the blood and puts it back into your body,” he said.
Doctors told him the only thing that could potentially save his life was a double lung transplant.
“Two sets of lungs came in — one they kinda rejected — but the second one was a perfect lung. Nothing was wrong with them. They fit my body and everything, so it was a blessing,” said Champion.
After four months of grueling physical therapy, “the Champ” is back in Hampton Roads and back behind two turntables and a microphone.
On Tuesday, he received his first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
He proudly rolled up his left sleeve to reveal the inoculation spot which is inside a tattoo on his shoulder.
“It’s right here on top of my malaria shot. When I went to Africa, when I served in the military for 20 years, I took the shot here. It was only sore for a couple of hours. That was it, with no symptoms, ” said Champion.
The transplant recipient had to delay inoculation. He remains immunocompromised because of medications taken to prevent organ rejection.
He’s spinning the hits and spreading the word about the safe, free and effective vaccine.
The Champ has advice for the vaccine-hesitant.
“Do your research. Figure out which one you want: Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. I did my research and I picked which one I wanted and got it the same day,” said Champion.
The Champ is a featured guest at “Shots at the Shops,” which is a vaccination event next month that will include food, fun, and music. It takes place Saturday, Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Perfect Styles Beauty and Barber Shop at 307 Oyster Point Road in Newport News. For more information contact Terri or Torris at 757-249-5500.