Weighing Risks and Rewards as a Lung Transplant Patient

Emma Schmitz avatar

by Emma Schmitz |

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My mom, Diana, long hoped to outlive both her mother and grandmother. She accomplished that goal some years ago, and thanks to her single-lung transplant last May, she sets a new record every day.

Still, everything feels fleeting. Over a year has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and for me, the days are never long anymore. In the mornings, along with my other mental to-dos, I think: “I need to talk to my mom today. I wonder if she met with her doctors. We need answers about this and that.”

I often forget to take a moment to relish the fact that she is still here. She continues to meet this simple goal of survival every day.

I am happy that she blew her highest number yet on a spirometry test recently, but these kinds of wins seem too small. I want to thank these small wins for their service, but we simply don’t have time for such tiny steps forward. We don’t have time to take anything other than leaps. But what would a leap for her even look like?

“Once I get my shot, I’m outta here, baby,” my mom sang to me on the phone the other day. She dreams of visiting my dusty backyard at 6,000 feet, petting her granddoggies, and hugging her grandchildren (my brother’s kids) in the Midwest.

Her doctors recommend that she stay away from others who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19. But toddlers can’t get the vaccine (yet), and it’s the toddlers she wants to squeeze. After a risk-reward analysis, this is the result she’s landed on: The reward of being with her grandchildren will outweigh the potential risk.

I scream inside. Little fireworks of joy and hope spurt about my stomach. I’m happy that my parents will see their grandkids again soon, and that they will visit me, too, the first chance they get. Despite being only three hours away, they haven’t been to my house in years because of my mom’s disease. But now, I know they’ll be here as soon as the snow melts — and maybe even before that so my dad can go spring skiing with me.

Before, I would have stressed about our agenda, what we would do, for how long, and so on. Now, I just want to sit outside with my parents for hours, smell my mom’s perfume, see her orange-slice smile, and hear my dad ask questions about wildlife.

Now, excuse me, while I deep-clean my house to prepare for their visit.


Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.


Diana avatar


Love this, Emma! Yes! Cannot wait to visit! ❤️


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