MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Sioux Falls father is thankful for what he calls a second chance at life.

COVID-19 ravaged Nathan Foote’s lungs. A double-lung transplant was his only hope. He had that life-saving surgery in Minnesota last spring.

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Nathan has become familiar with the inside of a doctor’s office. He travels from his home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis every three to four weeks for a checkup on his new lungs.

“Breathing tests, got to do that every time I come back up here, blood test,” Nathan said.

It’s a welcome trip from where things started. The rapper and married father of five tested positive for COVID-19 in late October of 2020. He was admitted to a hospital near home, and spent time in the ICU before learning how badly the virus had permanently damaged his lungs.

“In December they came and told me that there’s nothing else they could do for me and they was gonna move me to a hospice house,” he said.

At a time when visitors were prohibited from the hospital, his wife Angie and kids were only allowed to visit to say their goodbyes.

“They got to have their moments of saying goodbye to him, you know, hugs and things that had been missing for three months,” Angie Foote said.

One January evening, Nathan went on Facebook to share the real and devastating toll on his life.

“No matter what I do I can’t get better. So now I sit and wait, I wait for death to come,” Nathan said in the Facebook video.

He wrote letters to his kids for them to open on graduation day after he was gone.

Nathan Foote (credit: CBS)

And then came new hope. At 42, other than his lung failure, Nathan was strong and his other organs healthy. That made him a candidate for a double-lung transplant. He transferred to the U of M Medical Center mid-January.

“Knowing he’s flying off with the possibility of new life brought a lot of hope to us,” Angie said.

Nearly three months later, Nathan would receive the gift of life.

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“When I woke up … it hit me, it all came together,” he said. “It was too much. It’s humbling … I see life differently in a whole new perspective.”

Nathan said he had to re-learn how to walk, and do everyday things.

“You got to reteach your lungs to deal with your body, or your body to deal with these lungs and vice versa,” he said.

Pulmonologist Dr. Jordan Dunitz, who’s part of Nathan’s post-transplant team, credits his determination to survive.

“He’s able to do most of the things he wants to do, which is really, you know, really our goal,” Dr. Dunitz said.

But there’s still a journey ahead.

“The lungs are a harder organ to recover from. The lungs are the only organ that are actually exposed to the atmosphere every time you breathe. A lot of potential complications, indefinitely,” Dr. Dunitz said.

Nathan is using the time he has. He’s going to college to become a chemical dependency counselor.

“Life isn’t promised to me still,” Nathan said.

He’s slowing down the pace of life, soaking up family time, and living with purpose.

“All the milestones we thought we were gonna, he was gonna miss, he’s there for them now,” Angie said.

His double-lung transplant is one of three done at the U of M Medical Center due to COVID.

“It just gives you more that look of how life of how fragile life really is, and I want to take full advantage it, being here now, now that I got a second chance,” he said.

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Nathan also lost a brother to the virus.

Jennifer Mayerle