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October 31st, 2012
11:50 AM ET

A tale of two transplants

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessedTwo years ago, we profiled singer Charity Tillemann-Dick, whose lungs were failing due to pulmonary hypertension.  But she survived thanks to a double-lung transplant.  This week Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on how this soprano from Denver, Colorado, was facing death a second time because her lungs were failing again. Here, Tillemann-Dick writes about her struggle.

It was the worst of times.  I was afraid to go to sleep, fearing the next breath just wouldn’t come if I didn’t force my diaphragm down. The muscle is supposed to work involuntarily, but I think my diaphragm forgot that fact.

I had tubes coming out of my arms, wrists, chest and anywhere else you might be able to fit a tube.  My body ached.  My head pounded. I was miserable. Still, all I wanted was to live.  I wanted to wake up and see my husband.  I wanted to sit down at a meal and eat with my family. I wanted to stay up late gossiping with my mother and my sisters. I wanted to go outside and take a walk. I wanted to continue my life-long dream of being an opera singer.

I was waiting at The Cleveland Clinic for a lung transplant. But I wasn't waiting for my first. One year earlier, my body began to reject the first set of transplanted lungs and so I waited behind others, hoping a match would come but knowing it wasn’t a sure thing -– it wasn’t even likely. FULL POST


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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