POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- RJ Redstrom is just the second person in the world to get a double lung transplant.

He caught a case of COVID-19 back in 2020 that changed his life forever.

"Probably the worst part of that whole thing was the next month, because basically what I was doing was dying for a month," said Redstrom.

After being told his days were numbered, Redstrom never lost hope and said that something special started happening.

"It's very interesting, I call it the series of miracles," added Redstrom.

After 76 days in the hospital later, a team at the University of Virginia Medical Center saved his life, with a new pair of lungs.

"There had only been one done in the U.S. at that time, so the fact that the doctor even had that tool in his toolbox is miraculous to me," added Redstrom.

There was only one thing on RJ's mind after he woke up from that life-saving surgery: when would his next triathlon be?

His family decorated his hospital room with pictures of him doing what he loves most, and that was the guiding light to getting better. 

"The surgeon that was going to perform my lung transplant really took to those pictures and said 'Hey, this is what we're doing right here, we want this person to return to what he's doing,'" said Redstrom. 

With a lot of training, motivation, and a goal, he was able to compete in his first triathlon and said the best word to describe it was "surreal."

"It seemed like a fantasy, like it might happen, but it really wasn't real," added Redstrom. "As soon as I did the first one, I was already looking to do the second one. And it just fed one after another, and next thing you know, I was doing 19, 20 a year." 

And at that pace, he's now done more than 150 triathlons, but it wouldn't be possible without one person.

"People need to be able to donate organs, people need to know about that. Because if it had not been for an unfortunate situation, for someone to lose their life, I probably would not be here to tell you about this experience," added Redstrom.  

He is hoping to compete in more triathlons, while raising awareness about organ donation in the future. 

For more information on organ donation, click here