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Recipient Stories

Free to Breathe

My story begins September 1999 when I was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – I was only 41. COPD is a progressive lung disease that makes it very difficult to breathe. I was devastated, but told myself that I wasn’t going to let it get me.

Over the next 11 years, I did a pretty good job at keeping the disease from progressing – I quit smoking and tried to stay as active as I could. There were a couple bumps along the way, but I was feeling okay.  During one check-up, my pulmonologist tested my oxygen level at night. The results came back unfavorable, so I went on oxygen to help me sleep.  This was defeating since I had been trying to manage the disease without oxygen.

I had to realize I was slowly getting worse. Everyday activities were getting harder to do.  Making the bed, cleaning the house and even walking was taking a longer time than “normal.” I would have to stop or sit for a moment to catch my breath before continuing.

In January 2013, after a hectic holiday season full of family responsibilities, I fell very ill and was hospitalized for eight days. Shortly after that stay, I was back in the hospital again. Each time I got sick, my lung function depleted even more.  I was forced to be on oxygen practically full-time.

It was during my second hospital stay that my doctor told me the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Lung Transplant program was re-opening. He asked if I would be interested in being listed for life-saving lung transplant. Without any hesitation I said ABSOLUTLEY!

On August 9, 2013, a mere ten days after being placed on the transplant list, I got THE call! It was Staci, my lung transplant coordinator. She said “Becky, this is Staci. Are you ready?” YES! I was overcome with emotion and felt so grateful for the gift I was about to receive. It took me 20 minutes to leave work, I was so out of breath from excitement!

I was the first person to be transplanted under the newly re-opened program. My surgery and recovery went exceptionally well; I was released from the hospital two weeks later. One of my best days post-surgery was when the oxygen company came and took the concentrator and tanks away.  I was free!

In the last year, I have been making great progress.  I have had no signs of rejection or infection and I am able to exercise three times a week.  To celebrate my renewed life, and to honor my donor, my hero, my family, friends and I will be walking the Dash for Donation in July. My 82-year old dad is even joining us!

I want everyone to know that even though you may have had a transplant or may have medical issues, you still have the potential to give the gift of life.  If it wasn’t for my donor I would not be here today.  Take two minutes and register today.

I have been called a rock star by family, friends and my transplant team.

The true rock star is my donor.

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