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In 2009, our sweet Mom/Nana/Aunt Judy/Judy was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a disease marked by scarring in the lungs with no known cause. IPF's most evident symptom is a persistent cough, which Mom has had every day since 2008. Tissue deep in the lungs becomes thick, stiff and scarred, and as the lung tissue becomes scarred, it interferes with her ability to breathe. It is irreversible, and the only cure is a lung transplant.
For years after diagnosis, Mom lived her life as she loved-golfing, playing with grandchildren, traveling with Dad, enjoying family, attending church and socializing with great friends. We hardly knew she was suffering except for her cough. In August 2014, due to the research abilities and diligence of Dad finding this option, Mom was permitted to start taking the drug, Pirfenidone, through the extended distribution program at Scripps Hospital in San Diego. The drug had proven to slow down the process of the fibroids growing, but the drug had not been approved for the general population in the U.S. For months, Mom and Dad would drive to Scripps in San Diego to partake in the extended distribution program. Mom's situation seemed stable for a couple of years after starting the drug, but in the fall of 2016, her condition worsened, and Dad embarked on a journey to find her help. Due to her age, a young 75 years old, Mom was denied being considered for a lung transplant by UCLA and UCSD. They didn't know how healthy the rest of her body was despite her lung functioning!
In January 2017, we began going to an IPF support group once a month in Norwalk where there are 9 lung transplant recipients, several who are on the transplant list, and some who have been recently diagnosed and are starting their journey with this disease. The speakers are significantly helpful to gain education on this rare disease, and the positivity of the community of people is overwhelmingly encouraging. More information on IPF can be found at pulmonaryfibrosis.org.
We thank God daily for our courageous Mom who is fighting the good fight and our persistent Dad who wouldn't take No for an answer. In the Spring of 2017, Dad self-referred Mom to Cedars Sinai by asking if they would be willing to look at her medical records to consider her for a lung transplant. Cedars declared that they do not have an age limit, and case by case, they look at each individual. The process getting on a transplant list is no simple task. Prior medical records are initially reviewed by a team of doctors to determine if they want to accept an individual for the full battery of tests. In Mom's case, we are thankful beyond belief that they did. Mom had a series of 14 tests in May/June to determine how the rest of her body's organs are managing. Bottom line, she's in perfect health except for her lungs! Throughout the testing process, we had so many prayers and words of encouragement for which we are so grateful. The prayers worked, and on Friday, June 9th, Mom was placed on the transplant list.
On the evening of Wednesday, July 12th at 6:38 p.m. Mom and Dad were enjoying some wine and cheese at home with The Gilmers when Cedars called to announce that they have a donor lung for Mom. As you can imagine it was thrilling, overwhelming, and surprising all at once. Mom and Dad called all of us kids and took off to Cedars! After much waiting and prepping, Mom's surgery started at 9:05 am July 13th!