Separated from his family, fighting for his life

Transplant recipient who is in an induced coma battling pneumonia doesn’t have Covid-19 but virus is keeping him apart from wife, daughters

ANDREW “ROO” BUBLITZ is pictured with his wife Erika and daughters Emelyn, 7, and Keziah, 9. The heart and double-lung transplant patient is in intensive care and on life support in Milwaukee, suffering from pneumonia. The family had feared he had contracted Covid-19 but tests were negative.
Ozaukee Press staff

Andrew “Roo” Bublitz does not have Covid-19.

That’s the good news.

The 40-year-old West Bend man, who has roots in the Saukville community, underwent a heart and double-lung transplant in 2014 and is currently at St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee, lying in a medical coma, suffering from pneumonia.

“They rescreened him for Covid-19, concerned that the first screening they gave him was a false negative,” Erika Bublitz, Roo’s wife, said Tuesday afternoon. “He does not have it. I just found out.”

Bublitz, a former Saukville resident, was born with a congenital heart defect and underwent open heart surgery when he was 10 months old.

For a time he worked at his family’s Bublitz’s Family Restaurant in Saukville. His wife is a 1998 graduate of Port Washington High School. The couple was married in June 2002. 

They have two daughters, Emelyn, 7, and Keziah, 9.  

Roo’s medical history makes him extremely susceptible to viruses and lung conditions.

“A minor cold can very rapidly lead to pneumonia, which can be very deadly for a transplant patient,” she said.

Roo was admitted to St. Luke’s on Saturday.

He was put into a coma, was administered paralytic medication and put on a ventilator so that his body would rest and not resist treatment.

He improved on Monday, “went down a little bit on Tuesday” but rebounded Tuesday night, Erika reported on Facebook Wednesday morning.

“It may be a long road for him,” she said in a telephone interview. 

This is a new and traumatic experience for Roo, who has participated in 5K runs and the annual Fight for Air Climb at the US Bank Center in Milwaukee.

“He’s had pneumonia before, but we were able to treat him at home,” his wife said. “This is the first time he has been hospitalized and put into a coma.”

Doctors are giving him an 8% chance of survival, she said.

“I think things are looking up slightly” from that prognosis, she said. “So we’re holding on to that. His condition is so critical.” 

While the coronavirus has left Roo alone, the disease is affecting the family, nonetheless, because Erika and their daughters are not allowed to be with Roo in the hospital.

“They miss him very much. Usually, I can be there and send pictures and we can Facetime but now we can’t because he is in a coma and I can’t go see him,” she said.

“And the girls can’t see anybody (due to stay-home edicts from the state), so it’s just us here at home. They’re troopers but they miss their dad.”

And even though he’s not stricken with Covid-19, Erika said he easily could have been because of people ignoring the warnings.

“It’s definitely on my heart to protect people like Roo during this pandemic,” she said. “This just goes to show how fragile their medical state is. We want to make sure he has access to medical care that he needs. And if people don’t take care and they get sick, then the number of medical bends will fill up and prevent people like him from getting treated.”

The Bublitzes have a GoFundMe page to raise money to help them cover medical expenses. 

To donate, go to 

As of Wednesday morning, $14,050 had been raised toward a goal of $20,000.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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