Written by Nicole Brewer, Double-lung Transplant Recipient
I received a second chance at life on April 17, 2008, when I received a new pair of lungs. My story is a little ironic; I was a collegiate soccer player who loved to continuously run up and down the soccer field, but life had a different plan for me, and it continues to be a journey of joyous unknowns.
Like many transplant recipients, my husband and I have been on quite a journey! I’ll give a short synopsis of my disease and what led to having a double lung transplant and this second chance at life. But the thing is, this journey is not over. There are many unknowns. But there is an abundance of life and love.
I met my husband in college. He was a football player; I was a soccer player and it didn’t take long for us to fall in love. I was diagnosed with Lupus right after my senior year season of soccer finished. After graduating college, Josh and I got married and I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension about 7 months later. They changed my initial diagnosis of Lupus to Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder because they feared Scleroderma was the cause of my new diagnosis.
After exhausting all PH medications and even driving across several states to partake in a study (living in Colorado and driving to Los Angeles), my stubborn PH took over my lungs. We ended up coming face-to-face with the fact that my only chance of survival would be a double lung transplant. After being double-listed in Colorado and California, I received my new pair of lungs at Stanford in California.
The transplant ended up being a success. It was a challenging time yet so very exciting, but my husband and I got back to what we could call normal. I tried to do all I could with this new gift of life. I wanted to live life in honor of my donor. And I did. Fast forward four years later and my fears resurfaced. I’ve been in chronic rejection now for three years and the future is back to the unknown.
I will most likely be enduring another transplant in the future, hopefully, not too near. But right now, my lungs are sustained. I have no idea what my future holds, what it looks like, or what I need to still learn about loving full-heartedly. But I’m still alive and I am bound and determined to endure whatever is ahead.
This journey has been a real blessing. It’s been a journey of finding myself. But most importantly it’s been a journey of learning to love with all my heart. To love and be loved. I have witnessed God’s hand upon me this entire time and most of the time. I see what He is trying to change within me in order for me to LOVE to my fullest.
I’ve learned seeing life from a different point of view. Realizing life is so very precious. I’ve had to slow down, which is tremendously difficult and challenging, yet at the same time I love it. I feel like I can see the world. There’s a true blessing to it. And although there are many challenges and struggles I am facing, I’m trying to learn and grow from each situation, knowing there’s usually a lesson to be learned.
Without this selfless act of love my donor chose to make, I wouldn’t have learned all that life was about. But most importantly, I wouldn’t have learned all that LOVE is about.
Nicole is 36 years old and has been married to her husband, Josh, for 13 years. They live in Lafayette, CO with their dog, Rocky. In her spare time, she loves to visit with and see family (especially her 5 nephews and 2 nieces) and friends! She also helps out her church with various projects and enjoys painting and doing projects in her free time! She feels blessed with an abundance of wonderful support from many people in her life!