Kenny McCulley | CaringBridge

Kenny McCulley

First post: Aug 13, 2018
Kenny's story starts back in the winter of 2014 when he developed pneumonia like symptoms that restricted his breathing considerably, and continued to get worse and worse over time. Eventually his illness developed to a severe state, and he was taken to the University of Iowa and kept in the intensive care unit for approximately one month. During this month, many, many, many tests were performed, with high risk outcomes. Doctors were having difficulties in determining what the exact cause was. Overall, Kenny was not able to breath successfully on his own, tests were coming back inconclusive, and he was sent home on 10-15 liters of oxygen and very high doses of Prednisone, to keep his lungs functioning enough to keep Kenny from basically suffocating from the air restriction. At first, Kenny was home and comfortable, but eventually, within a couple of weeks Kenny's health returned to a severe state, and he was taken back to the University of Iowa hospital. Again, a battery of tests were performed, without a conclusive answer as to the cause and without a long term solution. Luckily, Kenny was released from the hospital in time for Christmas, but right after the new year, was back to a severe state, and we decided we needed a second opinion. We risked taking him to Des Moines, to Methodist Medical Center, arriving to the ER with Kenny's oxygen level in the low 40's. Kenny was immediately admitted to the intensive care unit, and went through a battery of new tests, with new doctors. It was determined that in order to find exactly what was wrong with Kenny's lungs and how to help him, they needed to perform a bronchoscopy with biopsy. This was a high risk procedure for Kenny, considering he would need to be put on a ventilator and his lungs were already compromised. He came out of this successfully and much better than doctors expected. With the results not determining the cause of Kenny's condition, we were able to understand his condition a little better. After consultation with Mayo, Kenny was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease, with similar characteristics to COPD and other like lung diseases. He was given a 3-5 year life expectancy, with the condition his lungs were currently in, and  understanding he would have to be on larger amounts of oxygen and Prednisone. Kenny was also made to understand that the damage that has been done to his lungs with this disease would not get better, but in following doctors orders, could slow the growth of new damage and loss of lung capacity. 


After being released and multiple follow up appointments with his pulmonologist at Methodist, Kenny went to the Mayo clinic to get opinions on lung transplant, and eventually settled back at the University of Iowa, with doctors within the organ transplant department. In January of 2018, Kenny was given strict guidelines to follow in order to be considered for a lung transplant. He had to lose weight, build lung capacity stamina, get more exercise, and gradually be taken off of Prednisone, replacing it with another drug that greatly lowers his immune system. Kenny was also given the negative effects of having a lung transplant, as the doctor said, "You are trading one set of problems for another. " After considering all options, both negative and positive, Kenny set out to change himself in order to be considered for a lung transplant. He has worked very hard to lose a large amount of weight, has been taken off of the Prednisone, and walks on his treadmill everyday. To say his family is proud is a considerable understatement!!


The last two months have been made up of multiple weekly appointments, a support team meeting, and a lot of phone calls back and forth. It has been full of ups, downs, tears, smiles, and laughter!! 


Today, August 13, 2018, Kenny received the news he has been waiting for!!! He is officially on the lung transplant list. We will use this page to keep his friends and family updated as new information comes to us. We want to thank everyone for your thoughts, prayers, cards, and much, much more over the last four years. Kenny is a fighter, and although there will be difficult days ahead, he will persevere!! 


Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle. Psalm 144:1
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