One day I got an email from the University of Maryland Medical Center and they wanted a lifestyle shoot of a recent patient they had, Denton resident, Lia Young. Lia's story is an interesting one. Lia was diagnosed with lung disease and was lying in a Dallas hospital bed in need of a double lung transplant in order to survive. Her husband, Robert was told his wife's medical issues made her ineligible for life-saving lung transplantation surgery and he should be prepared for her to die.
Robert wasn't ready to give up. He did a ton of research on the internet and found out about the lung transplant team at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Soon after, Robert connected with Taliba Anderson, a lung transplant assistant, who quickly took Lia's medical records into a transplant meeting to start the review process.
The very next day, a doctor at the Dallas hospital walked into Lia’s room and handed Robert a stack of papers. UMMC was going to take Lia with the goal of giving her a lung transplant.
Lia was put on ECMO and three days later a special medical jet, outfitted with doctors and an ECMO machine, was used to transport Lia from Dallas to Baltimore.
Robert and their 18-year-old daughter, Telia, took a separate flight to Baltimore and were soon in the Shock Trauma Center with Lia. With about 10 doctors and nurses treating Lia, Dr. Iacono pulled Robert and Telia into his office for a chat.
“I bought into his confidence. He was so confident in what he could do,” Robert says. “It boosted my morale because I was mentally gone.” The key for Lia was to find a donor with the same chest size and blood type, and to also use plasmapheresis to work around her high antibodies. Within 24 hours of arriving at UMMC, there was a match. The day after her transplant, Lia woke up with severe chest pain, and didn’t realize she had gotten new lungs. Lia used her finger to draw lungs on her chest and gave the thumbs down sign. Robert shook his head, but Lia scrunched her face in disbelief. After reassurance that she did, in fact, have the surgery, tears rolled down her face. “Oh my goodness,” Lia says. “That’s why my chest hurts.”
Today, Lia is back to her normal life, back home in Denton, Texas with Robert and their family.