BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Maryland man is recovering at Shock Trauma after his body gives out during a triathlon on the Eastern Shore. A heat stroke caused his organs to fail, requiring an emergency transplant.

Jessica Kartalija explains his family and friends are asking for your help.

Doug Wetzel, 32, is quite the athlete. He was nearing the end of his first ever triathlon when something went terribly wrong.

“He was a mile and a half from the end, he was running the last leg of the triathlon, and he realized he was in trouble. So he actually veered off course and went to find help,” his best friend, Craig Nickel, said.

A pastry chef at Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Wetzel had been training for a year for the triathlon and was in the best shape of his life.

“He was diagnosed with severe dehydration and heat stroke. So when he collapsed, his body temperature was over 107 degrees,” said Nickel.

Craig Nickel tells WJZ a good Samaritan was quick to contact the Rock Hall police and fire departments, who rushed Wetzel to the hospital in Chestertown — his liver and kidneys failing.

He was then flown to Shock Trauma, where he received a liver transplant.

“We’re very thankful to the donor and their family. We know what a challenging time it is for them, so we do want to thank them for what they’ve done,” said Nickel.

Wetzel will need dialysis for his kidneys, but there is hope they will fully recover.

“We’re not out of the woods yet. But each day, I think we’re taking a step in the right direction,” Nickel said.

Now family and friends are concerned about mounting medical bills and have set up a page to raise money for the Wetzels.

“It’s going to be a long recovery. The transplant, the medevac, the bills are going to start to stack up,” said Nickel. “When he does wake up, and when we’re getting him in recovery, that’s the last thing they have to worry about, last thing on their mind.”

Wetzel’s friends hope that once he fully recovers, they will finish the last mile and a half of the triathlon.

To donate to their GoFundMe page. CLICK HERE.


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