Knox grad shares pain, healing of lung transplants

From The Register-Mail:

Knox College graduate Mary Jo Festle returned to Knox to give a presentation Thursday on the history of lung transplants.

As an undergrad Festle studied social change, but when her brother needed a lung transplant at the age of 22 her focused changed.

“My brother waited two years before he got a transplant,” she said. “(Once he received one) he finished his degree, started a career and fell in love.”

Her brother died five-and-a-half years after the transplant from chronic rejection, where the human body rejects foreign bodies and attacks donor organs. Festle said the five year survival rate is still only 50 percent for lung transplants. But five years can be a long time for families battling disease.

“Five years is a lot for someone who is only 22,” she said.

Festle’s proximity to transplants gives her scholarship a unique view. She said much of the research on transplants has dealt with doctors, government organizations and the disease. She adds the point of view of the people waiting for transplants.

One of the things she focused on during her lecture Thursday was the lung transplant community.

“There are a lot of emotions involved,” Festle said.

For example, lung transplant recipients often receive false alarms, when a lung that initially is deemed acceptable can’t be transplanted. In those instances recipients rush to the hospital only to be told the organ that could save their life isn’t available…