My Transplant Journey
by Danny Spurrier
I was diagnosed with emphysema in 2000. Of course I
had it much longer than that and just denied it till I couldn’t go anymore
like most folks do. I even did not stop smoking until 9 months after I
was diagnosed. Shortly after that I was placed on supplemental oxygen at
2 lpm at nite and as needed during the day. Within a year, I was raised
up to 3 lpm 24/7 of supplemental O2. The next 3 ˝ years were spent with
my attending a rehab program in Winston Salem, NC, trying to continue
fishing, and really just surviving best I could. Then I was struck by the
idea that if I did not get a transplant, I had very little time left
here. So I began researching transplant seriously in January 2005.
Made decision to go for it around mid-April 2005.
Went to Duke for evaluation for transplant in May 2005. From May 2 thru
May 6. During evaluation, a heart stint was placed in right coronary with
70% blockage. This was done only because of the fact that it would keep
me off the waiting list. This stint was accomplished within 1.5 hours
after it was found on heart catheterization, a part of the evaluation
process. Other tests or procedures that are done during the evaluation
include the following: Heart catheterization, MUGA heart scan,
Ventilation-perfusion lung scan, Pulmonary function tests, Blood tests (25
vials), Echocardiogram, Chest CT scan, Gastric PH/Esophageal Manometry
Testing. Other tests may also be ordered as part of your lung transplant
evaluation depending on individual circumstances. All vaccinations must
be updated prior to transplant. They are pneumovax, tetanus, hepatitis B
flu and PAP smear and mammogram for females. You will also need to
consider financial, housing, and transportation needs. The tx financial
coordinator will contact your insurance company and inform you of the
extent of your coverage. They can also provide information on fundraising
or applying for various forms of financial assistance. When all test
results are available, transplant team members will meet and discuss
whether or not lung transplantation would be the best treatment for you.
This will be communicated to you within a week following the completion of
Completed my evaluation with flying colors and was
informed I was a great candidate for transplantation.
Began pulmonary rehabilitation at Duke University
Medical Center for Living in early July 2005. Finished 23 sessions at end
of August 05. Began graduate maintenance rehabilitation immediately.
Completed 18 sessions, was activated to the list on Thursday, Sept 15, and
was called for transplant on Sunday, Sept 18. All of my rehab to this
point was done by my driving daily 94 miles each way to rehab. Talk about
My surgery took about 9 hours and recovery was about
1 hour. When I was taken from the surgery room to ICU, I was told that I
used my new lungs to breath and was not on oxygen. I spent less than 16
hours in ICU and walked from ICU room to the step down room. Was released
from hospital on the 5th day in the afternoon at about 3 PM on
Friday. Reported to rehab the following Monday to begin recovery
process. Another part of the process is that each week everyone has a
clinic day each week, which means you cannot get 5 days of rehab each
week. Some weeks you cannot even get four days, as you may have to get a
bronch done or something else like blood work, tests, etc.
I am ending the recovery process presently and look
forward to some of the pills being taken away from my daily ingestion –
lol. When I am released to go home, there are still certain things I will
have to do: check weight each day, FEV/FVC each day, Glucose each day,
temp each day, blood pressure each day – these must be recorded and taken
with you to clinics which you have monthly, 90 days, 120 days, annually.
They keep a really close check on you after tx. You must also get blood
work drawn each week and results faxed to Duke where they will decide if
your meds can be changed.
Other than being sore, I have recovered wonderfully.
Had on episode of rejection which was taken care of by 3 days of
Solumedrol and a step down burst from 65 to 20 mgs of Prednisone. I will
be finishing my post op rehab on Friday, October 4, 2005 and will be
moving back home (94 miles away) on November 11, 2005. Since this is only
7 weeks after surgery, I think I have recovered well. I am looking
forward to getting home and beginning the process of returning to a normal
life with my wonderful gift of new lungs and a second chance. I also look
forward to trying to finish up some of the things that I let go of while
being sick with Emphysema.
I highly recommend Duke University Medical Center to
anyone who needs to have a transplant. They are the most professional
individuals I have met and are very aggressive in obtaining organs for
transplant. They get many more offers than other centers because of their
aggressiveness. That alone makes it a great place to be listed.
Copyright Danny Spurrier 2005
Note: Prior to his transplant, Danny also wrote
the inspiring article entitled
A loving daughters profile of her dad - written just
before he received his call for his lung transplant -
He will take your breath away by Cassie