500th lung transplant performed at TGH

- Jeanette Ebaugh's prayers were answered on February 4 inside Tampa General Hospital. The 65-yea- old finally got the call she waited nearly two years for: she was getting a new lung.

"I couldn't wait. The recovery's been very easy. I was in intensive care only one day. I was out of the hospital in just 6 days," she smiled.

The non-smoker was diagnosed with an incurable lung condition five years ago. Her life before the transplant was tethered to the 30-foot hose of her oxygen tank.

"This is the best I've felt in over three years. The first time I've not had to wear oxygen," she said.

Jeanette's success story is one of many. She represents TGH's 500th lung transplant since their program began in 2002. That's a milestone for any hospital. The procedure is the largest and lengthiest of transplant surgeries, generally taking between 6 to 8 hours.

"We have to work long hours. The reward is seeing someone who was doing so poorly, we can make a difference in their lives. That is more important than anything else," TGH Lung Transplant Surgical Director Dr. Christiano Caldeira said Wednesday.

It's been a little over a month since Jeanette's surgery. Her newfound freedom still brings her to tears.

"Thank you so much for the donor and their family. Without that I wouldn't be here," she said.

Jeanette will spend the rest of her life on anti-rejection medication. She says it's a small price to pay to have her life back.

Unfortunately, 120,000 people across the country are still waiting for an organ donation. For more information about organ donation, visit LifeLinkFoundation.org. 

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