Rima has spent most of her life in and out of hospitals due to Cystic Fibrosis. She knew she would eventually need a double lung transplant, but for so long, she was told that she wasn’t sick enough. She was so used to being told it wasn’t time, that when she was finally told that she was eligible for the transplant, she hesitated to take it.
Finding a transplant center was a challenge, but she moved to Minneapolis since it required one of the shortest timeframes to live in the city. During this time, her sister, Laima, decided to give up her life in New York and become Rima’s full-time caregiver. The two sisters decided that they wanted to make a difference for those waiting for a transplant, so they started a blog called Lung Story Short.
After starting the blog, she discovered the true lack of awareness for transplantation and organ donation. Many people are unaware of that transplantation is possible, much less the key components of medication and rejection.
However, the primary reason for the blog is to encourage those with similar illnesses to continue to live their lives. The two sisters have done everything not to be stuck at home all the time. They encourage their readers to live life and go on adventures. The girls have gotten a lot of feedback from their blog from others in need of transplants, and even med students.
After her lung transplant in early 2017, she realized transplantation isn’t as scary as it seems – and her goal is to tell others not to be afraid.
Since her lung transplant, Rima wants to do everything she couldn’t do before. She can now take a deep breath without coughing, and she has a lot more energy. Things, like jogging and going to the gym, are now a reality for Rima, although she is careful not to overdo it.
The sisters’ positive attitudes have gone a long way with other patients, but there have been bumps along the way. While preparing for her transplant, a lot of research was required including research of transplant centers, cities, and housing. There have also been struggles with insurance, financial issues, and simply being so geographically far from family. Luckily, the two sisters found affordable housing at a house dedicated to people with Cystic Fibrosis.
Now that she has her new lungs, it is scary knowing that organ rejection can happen at any time. There is the potential that anything Rima touches may make her sick – and she would never know where it came from.
Rima said that her followers have been shocked about how much medication she is required to take to prevent organ rejection. To raise awareness, she has taken pictures of her weekly pill case to illustrate the amount of medication she must take every week.
Now that Rima has her transplant, she is focused on taking care of herself and helping others going through similar situations. She has received messages telling her that her posts made transplantation less scary for someone else.
Rima and Laima are both dedicated to helping others and even want to start a non-profit that would provide all the information that they had such a hard time finding.
Although there have been significant advances in the field of transplantation, more research is required to end organ rejection. Power2Save aims to raise awareness about organ rejection and make one transplant for life a reality.