A Fort Worth paramedic who got a double lung transplant a few years ago is now hospitalized with complications from COVID-19.
Ruben Cisneros works at MedStar and has been a front-line medic for more than 35 years.
"My husband to me is my hero,” his wife Gail Haddix Cisneros said. “He's strong and he's the one who saves people and takes care of everything."
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Cisneros came down with a lung disease and ended up getting a double lung transplant three years ago.
He went back to work six months later.
When the coronavirus hit, he kept at it, working extra days, despite being at higher risk because of his lung transplant.
"He knew how bad they needed the medics on the streets and everyone is shorthanded because of the COVID and the pandemic,” Gail Cisneros said.
Then, last month, Cisneros got sick with COVID himself.
His wife thinks he probably got it at work even though he was careful to always use protective equipment. The family rarely went out and had their groceries delivered, she said.
He sometimes treated several COVID patients a day, she said.
"He knew the risks but it didn't stop him,” she said.
She said his condition is serious. He developed a rare disorder of the immune system and also sepsis, a poisoning of the bloodstream. And he no longer can walk.
"He's just got so much against him right now and I just feel like my husband, my best friend, is never going to be here again,” Gail Cisneros said. “He's getting worse. He's not getting better. He's going the wrong way."
A paramedic who's used to saving others is now in need of help himself.
"I just wish the public would realize this, realize how much these first responders and doctors and nurses put on the line for them."
Cisneros is being treated at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas where he got his double lung transplant.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Cisneros' family with expenses.
It’s unclear how many first responders and healthcare workers have come down with COVID-19.
But in Fort Worth, just one hospital – John Peter Smith – reported 778 of its workers have tested positive since the pandemic started.
In Texas, the total cases have surpassed two million.
An investigation by the Guardian found 3,176 American healthcare workers have died of COVID-19.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.