Lucky recipient of two transplants
By Kristen Margolies
I have been the lucky recipient of two life saving organ transplants.
I was diagnosed with AML leukemia in January 2010 and life would never be the same. Because of certain mutations, a bone marrow transplant would be necessary for survival. Otherwise my chance at relapse was very great.
I was lucky in that my youngest brother was a perfect match and the transplant happened at Cornell-Weill on April 22, 2010.
I am a single mom to a beautiful little girl who is now 8 years old – so I fight every day for us both. Failure is not an option. And no day is ever taken for granted.
The recovery was difficult – for the first 6 months I felt like I was hit by a truck – but within a year I was back on my feet and able to return to work and a mostly “normal” life. However, just a few months later, I started to become short of breath. It wasn’t terrible at first, but became progressively worse. I was diagnosed with Graft vs. Host Disease in August of 2011. GVHD in the lungs is extremely rare, and very difficult to treat. I went back on immunosuppression and tried a whole host of new medications, but nothing seems to stop the progression of the disease.
In the summer of 2013, I was told the disease had deteriorated my lungs to the point that a lung transplant would be my only option.
By early Fall 2013, I was oxygen dependent and so weak that I could barely leave my house. I was evaluated for lung transplant at one institution, but in December 2013 they declined to accept me into their program because I was not 5 years cancer free (despite them having told me at the start of the evaluation process that this would not be an issue). It was suggested that I apply to Duke as they take more complicated cases, which I did. They accepted me immediately and I relocated to NC in February 2014.
April 8th I got the call while in pulmonary rehab that they had found me lungs! I received a double lung transplant that day, and after a few bumps in the road, was able to return back to NY June 2014. A year later, there continue to be bumps in the road, bouts of rejection, and many many wonderful days! I am a single mom to a beautiful little girl who is now 8 years old – so I fight every day for us both. Failure is not an option. And no day is ever taken for granted.