Posts Tagged ‘lung transplant’

Lung Transplant – One Woman’s Success Story

Harriet Boger, Lung Transplant Patient

Author: Harriet Boger, Lung Transplant Recipient

As I write this blog, I am on Marco Island with my sister. We played 18 holes of golf, walking the course and pulling our carts. We also play tennis every afternoon and have played both bocce ball and croquet too. I walk on the beach every day (of course, always wearing a cover-up and hat as directed by my doctor), and reflect on my life. This is definitely something I could not have done the 2 years before my transplant.

I am so thankful for every breath that I take, and want to share my story to give people hope.

Road to transplant…

I had my transplant on February 26, 2008 – that was just 4 short years ago. I clearly remember the day I was told that I had Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.

I used to love to hike in the North Carolina Mountains, but was finding it harder and harder to breathe when I was walking. I thought perhaps it was because I was not exercising enough so I tried to be more active but the shortness of breath continued. I decided it was time to see my doctor about this and in August of 2004 I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). I remember the day my doctor called and told me. After the news, I immediately hung up and went on-line to look up the condition. I read that there was no cure, and that as it got worse there would be unrelenting suffocation. And most of all I was shocked to read that the life expectancy for this disease was 3-5 years. I was alone and burst into tears.

For the next three years my lungs rapidly declined. I did not want anyone to know. My PCP sent me to a pulmonologist who was trying to treat the disease with steroids and harsh antibiotics but the ability to breath only got worse. I told my husband and finally my sister. She too looked up the disease and kept suggesting that I look into having a lung transplant, but that thought was just too foreign to me. My sister called the IPF Foundation and she tried her best to convince me that a transplant was my only hope of survival.

By Christmas 2007 I was in a wheel chair and tethered to a 25-foot tube. In one month I had gone from only needing up to 6 liters of oxygen (not great, but could manage with a dainty oxygen tank that I carried in my handbag) to needing 12 liters and having to stay home tethered to larger oxygen concentrator which would not function if my cord was longer than 25 feet. My life changed from being filled with activities to sitting on a sofa by day and being so exhausted by eating or dressing or doing anything that I looked forward to night and sleeping.

The decision…

I remember that Christmas in 2007, my son and his fiancé were visiting. My son saw that I was getting sicker by the day. I was unable to even stand up without gasping for breath. My son sat on my bed one night and said, “Mom, I want to walk you down the aisle at my wedding in May and that is 5 months away. I want you to live. You can’t wait any longer, you have to do something.” I decided to get listed for a transplant. My sister had researched possible centers, and thought I should to Barnes at St Lewis because they performed the first lung transplant. But a dear friend, Dr. Fray Marshall, told me about the Emory Transplant Center and that they had an excellent Lung Transplant program.

Gaining my life back…

During my downward spiral I could do virtually nothing for a year before my transplant. Since my recovery I have resumed my normal routine. I am back to hiking and trying to play golf, croquet and bridge. I have no restrictions as far as activities. But to prevent exposure to bacteria which can cause infections, I can no longer enjoy my two favorite foods, raw oysters or steak tartar. The only other restriction is staying out of the sun without a hat and sunscreen, which most people my age should do anyway so that is not an issue.

But also giving back…

How could I not want to give back to the community? I was almost dead and someone gave me my life back, the most precious gift anyone can give. I am so grateful and thankful for my donor and transplant team that all I want to do is help in any way possible. I go to three support groups at different hospitals and visit patients and their families whenever I am asked to do so. I am a Family/Patient Advisor for Emory and on the Unit Practice Council for 5BS (the transplant floor at Emory University Hospital). I attend pre-transplant meetings answering questions from patients. The doctors can tell patients about the transplant but they want to know from me how it will feel. I believe I was predestined to have an illness that lead to this transplant so I can be a vessel for God and do the things I now do to help patients and families. I hope to do more to help raise awareness for the importance of organ donation.

A huge thank you to Emory…

From the time I first walked into Emory, when my doctors took a chance and put me on the transplant list, until I was transplanted worked like clockwork. The most important thing was the care and compassion of my whole transplant team, including doctors, nurses and staff. My surgeon was dedicated, caring and precise. My nurses on the Emory Transplant unit catered to my every need. The transplant coordinators conditioned me to the new lifestyle of pills and post-transplant regimen. They worked together so beautifully and were deeply passionate about both their work and their patients. This was so evident in the way they worked together and this respect for each other reverberated throughout and made such a difference.

A huge thank you to organ donors…

The greatest gift of love that anyone could ever give is the gift of life. When that gift is given a life lives on. I feel the spirit of my donor in me and only wish I knew who she or he was so I could thank their family personally and learn more about that person. I feel I am more compassionate than I was before the transplant, and I think it was gained from the spirit of my unknown donor. I feel that person living in me sometimes and that makes me want to be a better person. Thank you to all the organ donors out there! You are all heroes!

Related Resources:

Top Transplant Doctors in Atlanta are at Emory

Each year, Atlanta magazine recognizes the top doctors in the metro Atlanta area as ranked by a thorough physician-led research process. The 2011 Atlanta Magazine Top Docs list included 318 doctors from across the Atlanta area and across specialties, highlighting the cream of the crop in specialties ranging from pediatric to geriatric services and everything in between. We’re very pleased to announce that not only can you find over 100 of the doctors recognized this year here at Emory, seven of them are our very own transplant team members!

Our Emory Transplant Center and its physician team are unique in that they are part of a multidisciplinary team providing care in seven core transplant specialty areas: kidney transplant, pancreas transplant, heart transplant, hand transplant, islet transplant, liver transplant & lung transplant. All of our doctors here at Emory Healthcare play a role in changing and saving lives, but often times our transplant team and the treatments they provide touch the lives of our patients and their families on a deeper level. And more often than not, receiving treatment from our transplant specialists is their last, if not only option. Thankfully, based on our program’s rankings, both from a statistical post-transplant quality outcome perspective, and the perspective of the physician research team, researchers at Castle Connolly Medical LTD, and Atlanta Magazine, the Emory Transplant Center is a great option to have.

We again congratulate each of our transplant surgeons for their dedication to providing outstanding patient centered care for our patients and families faced with less than idea circumstances that can warrant organ transplantation. It is because of our multidisciplinary team of transplant specialists and their compassion, that recognition such as the Atlanta Top Doctors rankings is given. If you’d like to shout out a particular transplant doctor who has impacted your life, please do so in the comments below. You can also find the listing of transplant surgeons recognized in this year’s rankings below. If you’re interested, check out the full list of Emory Healthcare doctors recognized as the best doctors in Atlanta.

Pancreas & Kidney Transplant Doctors:

  • Chris Larsen, MD, DPhil – Transplant Surgeon
  • Kenneth Newell, MD – Transplant Surgeon

Liver Transplant Doctors:

  • Stuart Knecthle, MD – Transplant Surgeon

Lung Transplant Doctors:

  • Seth Force, MD – Transplant Surgeon

Heart Transplant Doctors:

  • Andrew Smith, MD – Transplant Surgeon
  • Javed Butler, MD – Cardiologist

Hand Transplant Doctors:

  • Linda Cendales, MD – Transplant Surgeon

 

 

 

Good Things Come in Twos (x2!) for Henry County Woman

Over five years ago, Kerry King felt very sick with prolonged episodes of nausea, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, and swelling.  She visited a community-based medical clinic, but her blood pressure was so high, they sent her to a local hospital where where she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and an enlarged heart.

After her diagnosis, an ambulance rushed Kerry to Emory University Hospital where she was admitted to an intensive care unit and diagnosed with a rare lung disorder, primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH.) PPH is characterized by increased pressure in the pulmonary artery, whereby the pulmonary artery carries oxygen-poor blood from the lower chamber on the right side of the heart to the lungs where it picks up oxygen.

After a heart catheterization and battery of other tests, Kerry was discharged from Emory University Hospital and returned home to Henry County with around-the-clock intravenous medication to mange the symptoms. On medication 24/7 for nearly five years, Kerry was forced to live a very limited lifestyle. Daily tasks became a major challenge, “I couldn’t even walk up the stairs to the bedroom at night – my husband carried me.” Trips to the hospital became more frequent and it became clear something had to be done.

Two days after Christmas in 2009, Kerry was placed on a lung transplant list at Emory, for not just one, but a double lung transplant. With her condition worsening by the day and after being informed she had about six weeks to live, all she could do was wait. And with nearly 2,000 people in the U.S. currently awaiting a lung transplant, finding two lungs for Kerry’s transplant had the potential to pose a serious barrier in saving the life of this Hampton, GA native.

Less than a month later, the good news came, and now, Kerry counts herself among the most lucky to have found a double lung transplant in time to save her life. Today, just over a year removed from her life-transforming experience, Kerry counts her lucky charms in the gifts that surround her each day, her twin sons, Justin and Austin, and the second chance at life she has thanks to her transplant that took place at Emory University Hospital.

After months of rehabilitation, Kerry returned home from the hospital.  That night, Kerry was enjoying her family and when bedtime for her twins came around, her son Justin went to the stairs and called to his Daddy to complete the only nightly routine he remembered in his young life, “Daddy, it’s time for you to carry Mommy upstairs.”   But on this night, for Kerry, those stairs were no longer a challenge.

Emory Transplant Center Achieves and Sustains Outstanding Quality Outcomes

Transplant Center OutcomesThe idea of replacing an organ via transplant can be a scary topic for people faced with a condition that may require one. At Emory, we’re consistently taking steps to improve transplant survival rates and hopefully, remove some of this fear for our patients. We’ve just received results from the January 2011 transplant center-specific report on outcomes from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR). We’re very pleased to announce that the Emory kidney transplant program, liver transplant program, and lung transplant program have all demonstrated consistently strong and in some cases better-than-expected patient outcomes.

Kidney Transplant

  • Emory’s overall one-year graft survival rate of 95.85% for the most recent cohort studied (July 2007 – December 2009) is statistically higher (p = .026) than the expected rate of 92.81%.
  • Emory’s living-donor graft survival rate of 100% is statistically higher (p =.033) than the expected rate of 96.36%.
  • Emory’s deceased donor graft survival rate is also numerically higher than expected (93.69% observed vs. 90.95% expected).

We’re pleased to also note that in 2010, the Emory transplant team performed 207 kidney transplants, and 22 pancreas transplant procedures – the largest number of transplants in the history of the kidney and pancreas transplant program. Of the 207 kidney transplants, 31% (64) involved living donors.

Lung Transplant

  • Emory’s one-year patient survival rate for the latest cohort (July 2007 – December 2009) is 90.14%, compared to a risk-adjusted expected rate of 82.74%.
  • Emory’s graft survival rate is 85.29%, compared to a risk-adjusted expected rate of 81.10%.

This past year, the Emory Transplant Center and team of transplant doctors performed its 300th lung transplant. The lung program has come a long way to reach this milestone, performing 35 transplants in 2010, a 300% increase over the annual total just 10 years ago.

Liver Transplant

Emory’s liver transplant program continues to achieve and sustain outstanding outcomes, with patient survival rates >91% following transplantation.

Since July 2008, our surgical transplant team has performed 241 liver transplantations (216 liver only, 25 liver/kidney combination transplants). Between January 1, 1988 – November 30, 2010, Emory has performed 67.9% (1,496 of 2,203) of all liver transplants in the state of Georgia.

Our transplant center continues to excel with statistically significant patient organ transplantation outcomes, demonstrating a commitment to high quality and patient success. If you have questions about our transplant program or outcomes, please leave them in the comments section below.

Jo Ellen Kimball – the Miracle of Transplant

Jo Ellen Kimball became somewhat of an Emory University Hospital celebrity when she became Emory Healthcare’s 300th lung transplant patient since the lung transplant program‘s creation more than 17 years ago in 1993. In this video and slideshow, Kimball tells her story and thanks the transplant team and the family of the organ donor.

For more information on Emory Healthcare’s transplant program, visit our transplant center website.

Emory Transplant Program Milestone – 300 Lung Transplants

For a young mother of two teen-aged sons, living life attached to an oxygen tank is not an ideal situation. For Jo Ellen Kimball, 40, however, this was the life she had grown accustomed to living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a condition that essentially turns the lungs to stone. As Jo Ellen’s physician and Medical Director of Lung Transplantation at Emory Transplant Center, Dr. Clinton Lawrence puts it, “Imagine trying to breathe through lava rock every day of your life.” The five-year survival rate of IPF is less than 20% and as of now, lung transplantation is the only known treatment.

Since September 17th, however, Jo Ellen’s outlook on life and future has changed drastically. It was on this day that she underwent her double lung transplant at Emory University Hospital.

After the procedure, Jo Ellen was able to regain her ability to breathe on her own after only nine days, a remarkable achievement. And after six years of life spent facilitated by an oxygen tank, Jo Ellen Kimball can now return to a normal life and possibly even return to her position as a fourth grade teacher.

As if this positive momentous life change for Jo Ellen wasn’t enough, she was also informed that her procedure resulted in even further celebration– Jo Ellen’s procedure was the 300th lung transplant performed by Emory’s Transplant Program (established in 1993).

Much like the journey Jo Ellen has experienced to free herself from the constraints of IPF, Emory’s lung transplant program has traveled quite a distance in reaching this milestone. The program is not a high-volume transplant program when compared to Emory’s other solid organ transplant programs. In fact, in 2009, 35 lung transplants were performed by the program, its most ever in a single year and a 300% increase from a decade before.

With generous donations and the help of doctors like Clinton Lawrence and Jo Ellen’s surgeon and Surgical Director of Lung Transplantation at Emory Transplant Center, Dr. Seth Force, the lung transplant program continues to grow and gain momentum.

“Emory has the only lung transplant program in the state,” notes Dr. Lawrence. “We provide a necessary and quality service to individuals from all walks of life from Georgia and surrounding states, including Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana.”

After a few weeks of recovery at Emory, Jo Ellen has since returned home to Conyers, GA to rest and recover with her family. We will be sure to keep you updated on her journey.