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Utah Nurse Who Battled COVID-19 Released From Hospital After Double-Lung Transplant

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A Utah County ICU nurse has been released from a Florida hospital one month after receiving a double-lung transplant because of COVID-19 lung damage.

“It’s a long process that I had to go through and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” said Jill Holker in an interview with the staff at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

Holker went to the hospital in early December for treatment. She previously spent time at two hospitals in Utah for COVID-19, where she learned that her lungs weren’t going to recover.

“Her lungs continued to decline,” coworker and fellow nurse Holly Pike told KSL TV in December about Holker’s condition. “She just needed more and more oxygen support.”

Pike set up a GoFundMe* account for Holker, a mother of three, who spent the first half of 2020 treating pandemic patients in the ICU and then became a patient herself.

“I don’t have any underlying issues. I don’t take medications — like my blood pressure’s good — no health history, pretty active,” Holker said. “So I was surprised that it hit me so hard.”

Known for her physical fitness, Holker shocked her coworkers when she was admitted to the hospital.

“Because you never think that you’re going to take care of one of your own, especially with the virus,” Holker said.

Holker received her new lungs on Jan. 20 and was released from the hospital on Feb. 19.

“The day that she got her lungs the surgery went really well,” said Pike, who kept in constant contact with the hospital staff in Florida.

“We all were just able to bond and to talk about our friend who we love,” Pike added. “And we could really tell that they came to love her as well because she is just such an exceptional human being that literally everybody who meets her just loves.”

Now that she’s out of the hospital, Holker reminds people to do simple things, like wear a mask, to protect those around you. She also thanked the nurses and doctors in Gainesville for their support.

Jill Holker with staff at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital. (UF Health)

“There’s been a handful of people that I feel like were really fighting for me — like sincerely fighting for me,” Holker said. “And it’s staff and it’s people who never knew me.”

Even though she’s been released from the hospital, Holker will remain in Florida for a few more months as she continues to recover.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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