A warrior faces second double lung transplant
By Maureen Miller • Guest Columnist | “Someone has to die in order for you to live.” The startling realization hit me, and my words hung in the air. She nodded. Unlike me, this fact wasn’t new to her, and I feared my comment was offensive.
“I’m sorry. Was that too forward?” My hand met my mouth, though I knew it was too late. The words were out.
But she was quick to calm my worry. “No. Not at all. It’s just the hard truth.”
And it is. My friend Kelly Reed, whose name fittingly means “warrior,” is awaiting her second double lung transplant. After being diagnosed in 2015 with pulmonary fibrosis, she underwent her first transplant in June 2019, but her body rejected the donor lungs, leaving her still struggling for breath, attached to an oxygen tank.
It was as we sat on her front porch that the realization of what must happen hit me, when I sort of vomited truth right there on our picnic lunch.
I’m not sure what I thought prior to this eureka moment. Being married to a health provider, one would think such knowledge would come naturally. Sadly, it doesn’t. Kind of like, when I was a girl and my daddy told me as I stood fishing on the bank of a neighbor’s pond, “We’re going to use these fish for fertilizer.”
That sounded fine by me, so I feverishly cast my line, competing with my sister to see who could catch the most bluegill.
Once home, I watched as Daddy tossed the flopping fish into shallow graves in our garden. Horrified, I cried out, “What are you doing?”
“I told you, dear. I’m preparing the soil for summer. These fish are fertilizer.”
For some reason, what he’d said earlier hadn’t registered. The moment I realized the fish had to die in order for our garden to offer top-notch tomatoes and beans, I erupted with indignation. “Stop it!” to which my kind and compassionate father conceded, never again to use this technique, sprinkling Miracle-Grow instead.
Seems I’m a slow learner. It hadn’t dawned on me that a life must be lost that Kelly might blossom and grow for many more years to come, to be able to experience what most of us do without thought, free of struggle, pain or fear. Because, unlike in the case of a kidney donor, someone’s breath must cease for his or her lungs to be harvested for a waiting recipient.
Kelly is a fighter. Her faith enables her to journey with courage, knowing that, no matter what, she’s walking with Jesus. After all, her eternity is secure because Someone gave His life that others might live — a truth we should each hold dear.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
To all who have donated or might one day donate organs so that others may live, thank you. This is no small matter. For ways to help Kelly Reed, visit her Gofundme at www.gofundme.com, Breath4kel2, or follow her story on Caring Bridge at www.caringbridge.org/visit/kellyreed.
(Maureen Miller lives in Haywood County.)