The drive to UW after getting the call for a transplant felt long but at the same time, flew by! We made it to the hospital in record time and checked in through the Emergency Room as instructed. They took me to a room to prepare for surgery and find out if the surgery was a green light or a dry run. We didn't have to wait long to learn the donor lungs and liver would be a match and we got the thumbs up to proceed prepping for surgery. I was put into a gown, an IV was placed and they prepped my body for the operating room. Mom and I hugged and I told her I would see her again very soon as they wheeled me away. By the time I got to the OR my heart was racing, my palms were sweating and my entire body was shaking from the mixed emotions I was having. I prayed to God all the way up until I felt myself drift off to sleep from the anesthetic for Him to guide the hands of the surgeons and to keep me safe. I drifted off in prayer, thinking about how badly I wanted to survive the surgery and get home to my family.
Surgery lasted approximately 18 hours. There were two teams of people in the OR to perform this life saving surgery. There was a team there dedicated to removing my scarred and diseased lungs and replacing them with a healthy new pair into my chest. And a second team that was specifically there to swap out my diseased liver with a nice healthy one! Surgery was long and difficult but in the end a success!
The next several days went by in a hazy blur so I am afraid I can't give a ton of detail. They left me in a medically induced coma while intubated. They tried to wake me the day after surgery but I was unable to breathe without assistance from the ventilator so I was sent back to sleep to allow my body to recover more. We went through this process several times before they finally decided I was 'with it' enough to try to breathe on my own. I was incredibly excited to have the tube removed from my airway. Although I knew in my head that it was helping me breathe, I still felt like I was suffocating. This was the most horrid feeling I've ever experienced in my life. I had to relearn how to breathe. One of the nurses was very helpful in explaining to me that the lungs now inside my body were foreign objects. My body didn't want to work with the lungs and the lungs didn't seem to agree with my body either. It was truly the most effort I have ever put into anything in my entire life. It boiled down to mind over matter and commanding the lungs to breathe. It took several hours before they felt comfortable with removing the ventilator. Every breath I took was a fight. And fight I did! Today I was officially breathing on my own! I was moved to SICU (Surgery Intensive Care Unit) and mom and I were settled and ready for the fight to recover.
I have been blessed with such an amazing team to take care of me! The surgeons performed a miracle in the operating room. And the nurses have all been phenomenal! I know I won't see most of these people again in my life but the bonds I felt with them is something I will always cherish and played a huge role in my recovery!
I am currently attached to all kinds of crazy equipment. I have 4 drainage tubes still inside my body. Two to drain the area around my lungs and two were placed to drain fluid gathering around my liver. Miraculously, I only had to remain on supplemental oxygen for a day or two before they found I was breathing at 98, 99 even 100% on room air. The donor lungs are working beautifully and for the first time in a very long time, I was breathing all on my own, no supplemental oxygen. Praise GOD!