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Flora’s Story—A Grateful Recipient
My illness first attacked when I was in college. I was just 18 years old. I was having shortness of breath. At first I thought it was because it was winter and the cold hit my throat. The episodes of shortness of breath didn’t go away. They got worse.
I was diagnosed with a rare pulmonary disease. In fits and starts I would be hospitalized. I was treated with medications that had more side effects than I could count. I felt horrible.
Each flare-up would leave me worse off than before. Then I was placed on oxygen. At first, I used oxygen part-time, about 14 to 16 hours a day. After four years of dragging around a tank, I had a bout of pneumonia. This caused me to need oxygen 24 hours a day. I used it to walk, sleep, eat, and shower; and I had to use it during my work.
I could no longer hide my ill health from strangers. My coloring was blue, although friends recall that I had a more grayish tone. I could hardly walk. To go just one or two blocks meant stopping many times to catch my breath.
My illness assailed me for almost 23 years until I became so ill that a transplant was my only option. After being on the waiting list for 22 months and 8 days, I received a single lung transplant on August 23, 1995. That first summer a friend threw a birthday party for me, and I was able to blow out the candles.
Now, thanks to the generosity and compassion of my organ donor family, I work full time, go to the gym three or four times a week, serve on local and national transplant committees, and still have plenty of time to have fun.
I used to wonder how much longer I would have survived without a transplant. I no longer wonder—I simply know that I’ve been blessed with many new years.