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My Double-Lung Transplant process

My Double-Lung Transplant process

As you’ll read below, it’s not just about resources; it’s about HOPE, FAITH and LOVE.


The steps I took to receive a double lung transplant were as follows:


  • Referral request, medical report and request for a lung transplant from the Lung Transplant Center of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.​

  • Travel to Cleveland, Ohio for the first evaluation.

  • First evaluation at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (October 14th - November 5th, 2013) to determine whether or not I’m a good candidate (blood tests, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, tissue typing [to help confirm that my body isn’t going to reject the donated lungs], colonoscopy, mammogram, among other procedures).

  • Second evaluation at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio (January 13rd,14th, 2014) to review progress, respiratory condition, infectious diseases, vaccines, allergy tests, review of physical and emotional conditions.

  • Acceptance to the Transplant Program at Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

  • Physical, emotional, social and lung rehabilitation, as well a test to check I was cancer-free.

  • Third evaluation at Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio (June 18th, 2014) to review progress, respiratory condition, review of physical and emotional conditions, and acceptance of the case by the committee to be put on the waiting list.

  • Signature of consent to be added to the active list for a transplant.

  • Guarantee and payment for the cost of the transplant, which was almost entirely covered through the sale of approximately 65,000 Breathing is Life bracelets in Venezuela.

  • Approval from the Transplant Patient Selection Committee of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

  • Final approval from the Ohio Solid Organ Transplant Consortium Patient Committee.

  • Admission and official placement on the waiting list by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The placement on the waiting list is based on a score obtained by considering all of the evaluations, lung condition, blood type, lung size, compatibility and likelihood of success. (October 3rd, 2014)

  • Hospitalization at the Cardiovascular and Respiratory Institute for requiring an amount of oxygen that couldn’t be administered at home, and a sudden drop in breathing capacity.

  • Transfer and preparation in the Intensive Care Unit to induce a coma and be connected to the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), which is a machine that circulates blood through an artificial lung and back into the bloodstream, providing adequate oxygenation while allowing the lungs and heart to rest. I had fought a lot not to let this happen. I was panicking, and to calm myself all I could do was pray and pray, and plead, asking with all my strength and faith that God, the Virgin, Dr. José Gregorio Hernández, St. Charbel and all the saints would protect me and that their will be done. (December 22nd, 2014, 10:00pm).

  • Notification that two compatible lungs were available. (December 22nd, 2014, 10:30pm).

  • The lungs arrived. Although compatible, they needed to be examined to check their condition, existing the possibility they weren’t in adequate condition, in which case I would be induced in a coma. (December 23rd, 2014, 5:45am).

  • My big miracle: compatible lungs, in good condition, and so began my double lung transplant. (December 23rd, 2014, 6:00am). While I was asleep, approximately 70 people participated in the procedure, which took about 6 hours to complete. Curious side note: December 23rd is the anniversary of St. Marie-Marguerite d'Youville’s death.

  • Once the operation was over, I was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, because complications that derive from the anesthetic-surgical procedure (such as primary graft dysfunction (PGD), the occurrence of acute rejection, infections and complications from the immunosuppressant treatment) occur in the first 72 hours, so I was supposed to be asleep for 3 days.

  • I woke up (December 24th, 2014, 8:40am) talking, saying FELIZ NAVIDAD, MERRY CHRISTMAS and calling my mom on the phone. THE BEST CHRISTMAS OF MY LIFE, the best gift God could have given me. Curious side note: Aside from the birth of Jesus, December 24th is the anniversary of St. Charbel’s death, whom I am devoted to.

  • Transfer to Intermediate Care because of good progress (December 26th, 2014).

  • Headed home (January 5th, 2014).

  • For now I should stay in the United States for medical check-ups and to prevent potential rejection; the idea is to be here so they can respond in time. My follow-ups will continue for life, being especially common in the first few years post-transplant. I actually had the first rejection during the first month, which was successfully controlled.

  • The objective of the patient follow-up is to: control lung graft, control immunosuppression, prevent infectious diseases, minimize adverse effects of immunosuppression, educate the patient and treat any complications.

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