It was the early 2000s, Tammy was in her 40s, and she was becoming increasingly ill. This went on for about a year. Meanwhile, Tammy was missing work and losing a significant amount of weight.
Her doctor advised her to see an allergist. When she went to see the allergist, she was told that she needed a pulmonologist.
For many years, doctors were unable to determine her condition. Finally, Tammy was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.
Tammy was in disbelief when she discovered her diagnosis. She immediately went home and researched the condition – which only added to her fear.
She later found out that she needed a Bi-Lateral lung transplant. She describes hearing the news as traumatic and in disbelief.
In November 2015, Tammy was added to the lung transplant list. By that time, it was a struggle just to walk outside to her car. She waited four and a half months for her transplant and received one “dry run” call In February 2016
Receiving “The Call”
“It was chaos when I received the call,” Tammy said. “It was emotionally overwhelming for both my daughter and me.”
Tammy noted that she doesn’t even remember the drive to the hospital. She didn’t realize how sick she was until she reflected on her life during that time.
“I just kept living,” she said. “I didn’t realize how sick I was.”
Post-transplant, Tammy spent 90 days in the hospital due to organ rejection and other complications.
Now, she is three years post-transplant. Tammy is doing great and enjoys traveling and volunteering.
Each year on her transplant anniversary, Tammy and her daughters do something special to celebrate her gift of life.
To Those Still Waiting…
Tammy encourages those on the waiting list to remain positive and hopeful.
“It is normal to get down and sad. Reach out to your support system for help,” Tammy said.
“It is also important to remain active and eat a healthy diet. Even if you can only walk half of a block; it really helped me post-transplant with my recovery.”
“Receiving an organ transplant is a traumatic, emotional rollercoaster. It is like climbing Mount Everest; Your goal is to get to the top, and when you do, it is well worth it. I am very happy to be alive and grateful for organ donation.”
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Claudia McGinness says
Great story, Tammy!
Cheryl Cutshall says
Thanks for sharing your story, Tammy, and highlighting the power of encouragement both pre and post transplant. Thank you for honoring your donor by sharing your story, and the activities you can continue to enjoy.
Beautiful my transplant sister!!
Thank you to Jose for his selfless act and most amazing gift of life!