The first post transplant person I met was a 21 year old guy who had received a double lung and heart. I met him in September of 2008 while I was on ECMO waiting for my heart and lungs. He had come to the hospital for clinic and stopped by the ICCU to say hi to the nurses. He found out I was there waiting for my organs and decided to stop in and introduce himself. He had heart problems all his life and developed secondary pulmonary hypertension from heart failure. He had his transplant four months prior to meeting me. He came by my room often, checking in on me and answering any questions I had. His mom was also super helpful and kind giving me advice and reassuring me.
While I was back in the hospital for my second transplant, I found out that he had been admitted with some lung complications. He came by my room to say hi and see how I was doing. I met his fiance, and his mom was telling me about what had been happening with his lungs. Soon after I re-transplant in June, he died. He was the only other person that I’d met who also had a double lung and heart transplant. It was really hard to accept that he was gone. His mom came by to see me afterward and was so positive about his life. I think of him often and wonder how his mom is doing.
The other person who I find myself thinking about all the time is a woman who came from Kansas for a heart and lung transplant . She was in the hospital in 2008 when I was there the first time around. The last time I saw her was this past September. I had finished a Pulmonary Function Test a few floors up and decided to visit her in the ICCU. We talked, and I told her I’d be back to see her soon. At the end of December I went to the heart-lung support group at UCSF and found out from my social worker that she had died less than two weeks after I saw her.
Even though she lived at the hospital for over a year waiting for organs and had a multitude of complications, she always remained strong in spirit and always had a smile on her face. She encouraged and inspired me as I went through my own waiting and recovery process. Now whenever I’m struggling or feeling bad I think of her and give myself a quick check.