"It just ate away my lungs," Blake Bargatze, 25, said of his COVID-19 battle, urging others to get vaccinated

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Blake Bargatze
Credit: WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore/ youtube

One 25-year-old Georgia man who survived a risky double lung transplant is raising awareness about the dangers of COVID-19 while urging the public to get vaccinated.

Earlier this year, Blake Bargatze went underwent the life-saving surgery in late June, with his mom Cheryl telling WXIA at the time that he contracted COVID-19 in April, presumably from an indoor concert. Her son, then 24, had been hesitant about getting vaccinated, she recalled, adding of the situation: "I just don't want anyone else to go through this. It's horrific."

Blake recently spoke to Insider about his recovery, revealing that he now takes 50 pills a day, is walking again and has been fully inoculated against the viral disease.

"It just ate away my lungs. They literally looked like chewed up pieces of bubblegum by the time they took them out," Blake, who had no underlying conditions prior to contracting the coronavirus, told the outlet. "They were riddled with holes. I was just fortunate enough to not have multiple organ failures."

He added, "I'm trying to make people become more aware of what realistically can happen with this virus. It's just not worth the risk. ... [I'm] grateful to be alive."

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According to a GoFundMe established to help offset Blake's medical bills, he was on a ventilator and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for months. The fundraiser explained, "Many complications occurred during his hospital stay that caused extensive damage to his lungs, requiring the need for a double lung transplant to survive."

"He and his family, especially his warrior mom, will be facing a very long road of pre and post-transplant, recovery and rehabilitation (at least 6-8 months in Baltimore, away from their home in Sugar Hill, GA," according to the page.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.