‘I’m ecstatic’: Full circle journey for COVID lung transplant survivor

CHICAGO —  Amanda Longe-Asque is the heart of Harmony, Hope & Healing. Now comes a celebration because she’s getting back to work.     

“I’m ecstatic,” Longe-Asque said. “It’s like there’s an illuminating light shining brightly in my heart.”

WGN-TV first met Longe-Asque in 2019 through the power of music. Harmony, Hope & Healing helped her recover from addiction, incarceration and homelessness. 

Amanda Longe-Asque

In July 2020, Longe-Asque was named co-executive director of the organization. But months later, everything changed when she was diagnosed with COVID-19 before vaccines were available.

Harmony Hope & Healing co-executive director Sophie Wingland says it’s been a long road for Longe-Asque.

“There were so many times, throughout the last year and a half, that there were so many question marks about whether she would survive and whether she would get through the surgery and whether she would be strong enough to get through the surgery,” Wingland said. “Whether she would be strong enough to go back to work and through all of it, she’s just blasted through the barriers.” 

Dr. Ankit Bharat and his team at Northwestern Medicine performed a successful double lung transplant on Longe-Asque. It’s now been one year since the life-saving surgery. Through it all, she’s dealt with plenty of setbacks, learning how to talk and walk again. 

She lost several fingers due to an infection. 

“I was in ICU for seven months. I was hooked up to so many machines and I didn’t recognize myself anymore and I couldn’t talk and they’re like, ‘can’t you text?’ I’m like no, ‘my hand.'” Longe-Asque said. “All these things that happened because of Covid but I never wanted to give up. I said ‘no. I can’t give up. I’ve got to fight. I’ve got to fight to live.'”

Longe-Asque says faith, music, and support from her husband and children helped her push through.

“I miss HHH because it’s been a part of my life forever during my recovery,” Longe-Asque said. “Here they are again supporting me, guiding me, accompanying me, not doing it for me but walking alongside me and cheering me on.”

Wingland says she is excited to work with Longe-Asque once again. Both have big plans for Harmony, Hope & Healing’s future. 

“I am so excited that I’m back and the possibilities are endless, right?” Wingland said.  

HHH is working to broaden its reach, expand its programming in Chicago, and spread joy. 

“I was seeing a cardiologist, a urologist. I said I’m a joyologist and I want to bring joy to any person that comes in contact with me,” Longe-Asque said. “That’s what singing does.”

On Sunday, June 5, HHH will host its first in-person heartbeat fundraiser in two years. The event will honor the Northwestern Medicine team that performed Longe-Asque double lung transplant. 

Chicago News