SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – It’s been almost a year since former South Dakota Highway Patrolman Chris Hogan had a double lung transplant after having COVID-19. His family is still paying the medical bills.

In May of 2021, friends and family welcomed Chris Hogan home to Harrisburg three months after a double lung transplant. Now, he’s getting ready for a benefit fundraiser.

“As much as that you go through with a transplant and worrying about living or dying and your health and keeping the lungs healthy, the stress on the financial part on top of it gets overwhelming,” Hogan said. “And to have family, friends and the community come together like this for me, helps a lot with that.”

Hogan needed the transplant following a difficult battle with COVID-19. His doctor says he had an underlying lung disease, which was manageable, but the virus caused his lungs to deteriorate.

“This was the inciting factor why he ended up needing a transplant,” Dr. Ilitch Diaz-Gutierrez, Hogan’s transplant doctor, said. “There’s no question about it.”

“Quite honestly, as it got close to the time where I got the transplant, I didn’t really expect to be, you know, sitting here today, for sure. It was a scary time,” Hogan said.

He now has checkups every two months. But he says COVID-19 is still his biggest hazard.

“People who already have a lung transplant, they have to be on a medication to suppress their immune system so they don’t fight the lungs because they’re not theirs,” Diaz-Guiterrez said. “But by doing that then they’re prone to having an infection.”

“I have to take a lot of precautions,” Hogan said. “I’ve had the vaccine, I’ve had the booster. I’ve been fortunate enough, just recently, to get the monoclonal antibodies. Doing everything to help me from getting COVID again.”

This weekend he looks forward to seeing his friends, family and all of his supporters. He also encourages everyone to become an organ donor.

“I’m alive today because of my lung donor and their generosity,” Hogan said. “There’s thousands of people right now that are very sick and waiting for an organ to save their lives.”

The benefit for Hogan is Saturday night at 6 at the Meadow Barn in Harrisburg.