Mary's Lung Transplant Story

Twenty years ago, Mary Farrell was told she would eventually need a lung transplant. As a grounds technician for the U.S. Air Force, Mary worked with concrete and asphalt for years, and this took a toll on her respiratory health.

“I was a roads and grounds technician, and the asphalt and concrete after the years destroyed my lungs," Mary said. "Every year they took a pulmonary test, and year after year, you could see my pulmonary function deteriorating.”

Mary felt she didn't have time to get a lung transplant, as she was busy raising her 12 year-old son at the time. Worried about factors like quality of life and survival outcomes, she opted for a non-surgical treatment for as long as possible.

Lung Transplant at University Hospital

After her son graduated from flight school, Mary got a bout of pneumonia phenomena and knew it was time to take action. She scheduled a lung transplant consultation with University Health.

Dr. Holly Keyt is the director of lung transplants at University Hospital. “My experience with lung transplant care is to provide direct care to all patients in the lung transplant program, whether they’re in the hospital or the clinic," Dr. Keyt said. "When we first met, Mary was going through her evaluation, which is a series of tests we do, and it can take several weeks to find out if people are strong enough to undergo the lung transplant."

Dr. Keyt determined Mary was a good transplant candidate, and Mary underwent lung transplantation. The lung transplant team at University Health cared for Mary for two weeks following her surgery. “They’re the most wonderful, kind, intelligent people I’ve ever met … they saved my life,” she said.

Life After Lung Transplant

Today, Mary is doing great and is an avid hiker. “I used to stand in the woods and cry after my procedure because I could finally breathe,” she said.

“It was a miracle, it truly was," Mary said. "Without University Health, I’d be dead. I probably would’ve died three or four years ago. To this day, almost five years out, they look after me like I’m a queen. It’s absolutely amazing."

Learn more about lung transplant care at University Health.

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