5 years ago, Matt L was previously a totally healthy 27 years old when he found out he had Leukemia. He and his wife had just had a baby. Fortunately he lived in Milwaukee where the hospital specialized in bone marrow transplants to cure it. His brothers were tested and they were both a match. His body rejected the first transplant but the second one is working and he is considered to be in complete remission. He was finally returning to having a normal life with his 3 and 5 year old sons.
Last autumn he found out he had a lung inflammation from graft vs host disease and his lungs have began to fibrose. His wife left him and they were divorced as his lungs began to fail. He has been on a ventilator 4 times this year.
His only hope now is that he will receive a double lung transplant. Only a few centers in the US provide this complicated surgery, and he was thankful that his brother lived near Duke University Hospital where he needed to travel to see if they would accept him onto the “list.” His mom has been by his side for months and she is a strong Christian. They have both put their trust in God that He will provide.
As we taxied to take off, Matt was taking pictures to send to his boys. He took more pictures at altitude of the amazing cloud towers. We were all grateful that the 12% of his lung function that remained, kept him okay in the thinner air. He and his mom were the first passengers to pray out loud at altitude for our mission. It’s so wonderful how you feel closer to God when your up in His clouds and above all the problems of the earth. I was amazed to see this family’s faith. Even as we hit major turbulence coming into Raleigh-Durham due to storms-they didn’t seem to be bothered.
As we rode in the ground ambulance to the hospital, Matts strength seemed to wean. He had more trouble in his breathing and was in a lot of pain. His pain medication was due so we gave him a little morphine to hold him over.
We were shocked when we called in report on the way to Duke as the nurse scolded us for giving pain medicine.
I guess there policy is that you are not allowed on the transplant list to have pain medication as it can decrease your respiratory drive. Wow- does Matt have another huge battle in front of him, even before he gets new lungs, because he has severe back pain.
We gathered around him (under many watching eyes) at Duke, and prayed and prayed. His mom even prayed for the family that will loose a loved one in order to give Matt new life. But the main thing is that they know the One who died to give them eternal life.
Thanks to great flying in the storms by Hal and Tyler, and for my awesome team of medic/RT Drew and medic/RN Matt.
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