Monday, April 9, 2007

A Letter to My Beloved Transplant Coordinator

Dear Vicky,

There was a time shortly after my diagnosis of chronic rejection that I was completely positive that I would never go through another lung transplant. I had my shot at life, I was going to die and that was okay. I think I had been dealing with the disease for about a year when it suddenly hit me that I wanted to do anything I could to try and stay on this planet a little longer. I still had things I wanted to do! That’s when I decided to make an appointment to talk to the team about getting a second transplant.

I did just that. I met with the head surgeon and he explained the elevated risks of a second go-round. After that I met with your predecessor, Betty. She told me horror stories about second transplants in general and how I should not even bother. She told me it was a bad idea and that I should put it out of my mind. I went home and prepared to die without hope of another life-saving surgery.

Months later Betty quit and you came on board. I was home when you called me to introduce yourself but I didn’t answer the phone. (By that point I didn’t really see what more the team could offer me and I avoided contact.) I listened to your voice over the answering machine and had very little interest in getting to know this new transplant coordinator.

When I came in for my next appointment at the clinic you were there. I was very angry because I didn’t understand why I needed to drag myself, my oxygen tanks and all my tubing over to the hospital when I was dying and there was nothing more that could be done. From my position, getting there was difficult, being there was pointless and getting home was exhausting. I resented those visits and was cantankerous towards all that entered my little exam room. You were no exception.

That is what is so mysterious to me, even to this day. How did you do it? How did you walk into the room, encounter my snarling and spitting and see right past it? How did you look inside me and see my pain, hurt and fear? Could you somehow see how desperately I wanted to live? What made you decide to fight for me and help me get on the list for a second transplant?

I have no answers to these questions. What I know is that you moved a few mountains out of the way and cleared the path for me to pursue my dream of living another day. It is because of you and your instincts to help me that I am here, two new lungs and years later. It is because of you that I have been able to fall in love with the man of my dreams. It is because of you that I am able to write this book. It is because of you that I am able to breath in spring, fall, winter and summer. It is because of you that I look forward to another tomorrow. How do I properly express gratitude for the monumental role you have played in my entire existence? There simply is no way.

I am not alone in this dilemma. How many people can say these same words to you? How does that feel, to have made such a dramatic impact on so many lives?

Vicky, all that I am able to offer you is the hope and prayer that God will see all that you have done and reward you beyond all expectation. May you be blessed a thousand fold in this life and any that follow. May all the good you have done be done to you. May all the compassion you have shown be given to you when you need it most. My passionate prayer is that your own joy will be proportional to the love you have given so many patients. I offer this prayer with sincerity and humility.

Thank you so much for moving here and taking Betty’s place. No more post-it notes!

With All My Breath,



BreathinSteven said...

Oh my God, Tiffany... You wrote a truly beautiful letter to Vicky -- She must be an incredible lady...

There are some who just have a gift in seeing through our facades... And some of us with chronic illnesses have incredibly strong facades. I'm glad Vicky came into your life.

I've had my share of Vicky's in my life -- I haven't been in your situation yet (and I haven't read much deeper into your blog, but I believe I have to after reading this letter...) But if and when I get into your situation, I already know there will be a few Vicky's in my life guiding me where I need to be...

You take care -- I'm glad you hung around... I'm glad you found the love of your life... I'm glad you're being an "illness ambassador" to others... And I'm glad you're looking forward to tomorrow...

I have CF too... I received two beautiful lungs seven years ago yesterday from a precious girl in Iowa named Kari. Some of my story is posted at

I hope you continue to treasure every breath as your letter to Vicky seems to exclaim!



Steve Ferkau
Chicago, IL

Anonymous said...

wow! awesome piece. my favorite so far, very heartfelt - keep them coming!

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