By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Men and women in law enforcement all over South Florida are raising money for fellow officer Frank Sangineto at a BBQ at Miami-Dade Police Headquarters.

The Miami-Dade K-9 officer is in a life-threatening battle with COVID that began in August.

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Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rene Garcia is Frank’s cousin.

“He got through a real big hurdle, two hurdles, one was when he went down, when he was intubated, and then pretty much in a coma for four weeks, then now the next hurdle is getting that lung transplant,” Garcia said.

Frank was flown to Shands Hospital in Gainesville.  He’s waiting for a double lung and kidney transplant.

Elaine Ibarra has a son with Frank. These past few months have been difficult for the family.

“He’s a great dad,” Ibarra said while getting choked up. “I couldn’t picture raising my son without him, anybody else,” she said.

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From this one BBQ sponsored by the South Florida PBA, fellow officers raised more than $10,000.

Isabel McDonald is his partner in the K-9 Unit.

“He’s stronger than he ever was, he’s ready for this transplant,” Officer McDonald said. “His spirits are high and no matter how painful it is, he’s pushing through it!”

While he’s fighting for his life, the police union says COVID has taken a devastating toll on officers.

“It’s the number one killer of police officers right now throughout the county.  Throughout the country, we have over 300. Right here in South Florida, we’re well over 30 that have died from it,” said South Florida PBA President Steadman Stahl.

To give you a snapshot of COVID in South Florida law enforcement, currently at the Miami-Dade Police Department, there are 21 employees out with COVID. Another 15 are awaiting results.

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At the Broward Sheriff’s Office, 20 employees currently have the coronavirus.

Ted Scouten