In my last article, we talked about COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and how it had affected one of my patients and also a friend who was waiting on a lung transplant. As I was reflecting on the article to submit this time, it came to mind how very similar my last article was compared to the very first one I had published by Nurse Guidance. In that article I was called in to talk with a mom and dad (also my friends) about the donation of their 13 year old’s organs after a devastating trauma mostly involving his head. Testing showed that the brain was no longer functioning and these parents were given the tough decision on the spur of the moment in choosing to donate organs or not (see “Life Goes On“.) My first article was more about being an organ donor and the most recent about waiting on a long list to receive a set of lungs. Perhaps the correlation between the two is meant for someone out there wavering on the decision of becoming a donor or not.
In the article on COPD a patient/friend was waiting on a call from John Hopkins for a match so that she could get new lungs. I had asked that if you were a person who prayed to please keep Ellen in prayer in time to save her life. The article came out and within three days after that my phone went off and it was Ellen texting me she was on her way to Hopkins. She had received “the call.”
After she arrived at John Hopkins events went very quickly in the transplantation. Surgery went well; and as the days passed, her daughter kept me up-to-date daily. Ellen’s journey began with her new lungs. She stayed in the hospital for about ten days before going home. That in itself was a miracle! Her doctor wanted to make her “the poster child” for lung transplants. Ellen’s battle was not without pain and agony in the hospital and on arriving home. It was an upward battle working with the new lungs she had received. The surgery, as you can imagine, is a huge surgery with high risks both before and after. Will the body accept the new lungs or will it reject them? The pain and discomfort but went well. Many prayers were answered.
This article is to update you on Ellen and her feelings after receiving her blessing. The following words are what we spoke about after she was home and beginning her new journey:
“To say this has been a fast forward journey is to say the least; but what a journey it has been, and it’s just began for me. Things we do on a daily basis become so unimportant to us that we never take time to be thankful for them. Like the simple task of brushing my teeth without the need of supplemental oxygen. I don’t need that now. Transplant means life for so many out there, and it is not a simple task that cannot be completed by all. You absolutely must have a great support group and exceptional doctors to get you to where I am today–and the help from a higher power then ourselves. You must have determination to get yourself there–to love life beyond anything and the will to hang on or you will fail. I received my anticipated call and was sort of in “shell shock.” Waiting all of those months, it was finally going to happen.
Before I went into surgery I tried to explain to my family that if I did not return from the operating room, it was not from my doctors not trying nor was it from me giving in. If this happened, it was because it was my time. I gave them all a hug and a kiss and went through the doors. After that, I remember nothing until the day after the surgery, that day was patchy. Thankfully I was sedated because the pain was something I could never explain as for intensity. You are slammed with pain killers and an epidural, but the pain still is present. But that pain meant LIFE!!! I expected to be dizzy with excitement and happiness, but that is not the case at first. You are so overwhelmed that you don’t know what to think. Happiness, sadness for the donor family and fear go hand-in-hand. My new journey of this life has begun. I have a lot of things to do now, but first I must heal. Soon I will be able to play with my grandchildren, enjoy family activities and love the very simple pleasures of life I couldn’t do before. If you are ‘on the line’ as far as being an organ donor, please don’t hesitate. Read this article again, and remember the importance of the lives you could change when your time is done.”