My Aunt, Pat Kerr, lived an additional 9+ years after a single-lung transplant. (Current thinking is that longevity is better served by double-lungs, which means there are half as many to go around)! She spent most of her post-diagnosis time (IPF, or Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) encouraging others who were on transplant waiting lists, often traveling to them (which her “new lung” eventually gave her the opportunity to do). She loved to educate others on how waiting lists operated, spreading the word about the positives and negatives of various facilities and attending support groups (not expecting to receive support but to support others facing similar circumstances). Nothing made her happier than sharing the news when the chaos of a “match” was underway. She maintained prayer lists and connected people before, during and after their surgeries.
Aunt Patty kept a photo of her doctor, whom she loved for both his straight-forwardness and compassion, on her refrigerator. Here is a quote of his, taken from the Johns Hopkins website, which contains in a nutshell what she wanted people to know:
Dr. Orens says being able to relieve patients’ suffering is the most rewarding part of his job. “Lung transplantation is a treatment, not a cure, for lung disease, because essentially you trade one illness for another,” he explains. “But there are major benefits to transplantation. If a patient is dying from lung disease, a successful lung transplant will prolong their life and dramatically improve symptoms. I had one patient who was able to run a 5K race six months after the transplant.
This is somebody who was so sick that he was bedridden in the hospital for three months before the transplant.” –Dr. Jonathan Orens, Johns Hopkins Medical School
The person who undergoes such a transplant has to have the will to live and fight –that Aunt Patty had. I would be remiss not to mention that she believed she would see Jesus, which informed her life and death. Her car had a he had a bumper sticker that read: “Don’t take your organs with you when you go, Heaven knows we need them here.”