Jewish Hospital Lung Transplant Recipient Thankful for Gift of Organ Donation During Holiday Season

William Justice

William Justice had worked as a coal miner in Eastern Kentucky for more than 32 years, when black lung disease nearly took his life.

Justice had never been a smoker. He suffered from coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung disease, which is caused by long-term exposure to coal dust, common among coal miners. Justice spent months very ill, in-and-out of the hospital with lung problems.

“My lungs were so bad that even little things would get me down,” said Justice. “The doctors told me that I didn’t have much time left.”

Finally, his doctors recommended that Justice visit Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky for an evaluation. At that time, he began pre-testing for a lung transplant. His heart was strong, but his doctors asked that he meet correct body mass index (BMI) and weight requirements before he would be eligible for a transplant. Justice worked hard to meet the requirements. On Valentine’s Day in 2017, he was placed on the list to receive a lung transplant.

“I knew that a transplant was risky, but I felt like it was my only hope,” said Justice. “The doctors were confident that they could save my life, if an organ donation became available.”

Justice continued treatment while he waited for a lifesaving organ donation. He traveled to Louisville for a visit at the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center on November 20, 2017. He thought never expected it would be more than a check-up.

“That day, one of the coordinators came and found me, and she was crying,” he said. “She told me, ‘we found you a set of new lungs, and you’re receiving a transplant.”

Justice underwent a lung transplant on November 22, 2017. It was a 10-hour procedure, and he spent around six-weeks recovering in the hospital. He was released on January 3, 2018, ready to slowly ease into his new, healthy life.

This Thanksgiving, Justice says he is most thankful for his organ donor and the donor’s family. He has never met his donor’s family, but he wants them to know how thankful he is for the gift of life. Although his medications prevent him from doing so, he wishes that he could register as an organ donor himself and help others in need, just as he received a lifesaving organ donation.

“There are good people out there who make this possible,” he said. “I understand that with the good, comes the bad. A family lost their loved one for me to continue my life. For that, I am beyond grateful. I hope my story is eye-opening, and encourages others to register as donors.”

Justice still attends pulmonary rehabilitation three times per week in his hometown of Phyllis, Kentucky. He recently spoke to a Donate Life group in his area about the importance of organ donation.

Group – It’s a Good Thing

Cindi Gardner - Rosie Ring

The first time Cindi Gardner walked into the Rosie Ring, she felt comfortable.

“We share. People listen. We get understanding without those sad looks we get from people who haven’t experienced cancer. I don’t feel the stigma of cancer – we all have it or are recovering from it,” she said in a recent testimonial. “It isn’t the dirty word or the elephant in the room no one wants to acknowledge. I don’t have to reveal that I have cancer – that’s why I’m there!”

Cindi Gardner

Rosie Ring is a networking and support group for women facing breast cancer offered through KentuckyOne Health Cancer Care at Saint Joseph East. Since 2013, women in the group have been gathering to discuss everything from the side effects of medicine to coping strategies to quality of life.

“It’s a great combination of incredible women, a social worker who gets it and is open to whatever topic comes up, and a place I can go where I don’t feel like the sick one,” she said in a recent testimonial. “I DON’T FEEL LIKE THE SICK ONE.”

The group meets for different activities that expose them to tools they can use while coping with their diagnosis, treatment and fear of reoccurrence, according to Stacy Florence, MSW, CSW, OSW-C, manager of Business Operations, Oncology Services.

“Group has been where I’ve learned so much – about treatment, recovery, resources, coping strategies, … Oh my! I realize physicians can’t give me a list of every possible side effect, information about alternative treatments, or share personal stories of patients,” Cindi said. “I’m amongst a group of women – intelligent, proactive women – who have educated themselves about self-care and cancer and are willing to share. I can show up at Group and ask, ‘Has anyone????’ and most likely someone has and is willing to talk about it.”

The women do yoga. They take cooking classes. They’ve done a drum circle. They’ve focused on things such as combatting fatigue, physical therapy, eating well, medication management and advance care planning.

“Our activities and outings – from meditation, restorative yoga, dog kennels – are a great combination of fun, distraction, and still with that common bond of cancer<” Cindi said. “If someone needs to take it slow, no one complains. Good news/results, not so good news/results – it’s all OK. Bald heads, compression stockings, lopsided chests – it’s all OK.”

For Cindi, it’s more than the group meetings. She’s made new friends, who often check in with her and they meet regularly for lunch. That includes a special friend “who lets me whine and complain about the side effects of the aromatase inhibitor I am taking. She also deals with the same issues, and we support each other through emails, dinners, and texts. She is a huge support – which shows that Group extends outside of our scheduled gatherings.

“There is just something about the Rosie Ring that is special. I can’t quite put my finger on it and put it succinctly. I just know it works,” she said. “We are a group of women going through treatment and recovering from treatment – living with that shadow of recurrence that no one else quite gets.

“Group – it’s a good thing.”

Learn more about Rosie Ring and other Cancer Care support groups at Saint Joseph East.

Cancer Treatment Close to Home for Bardstown Resident

Twyman Clements

Twyman Clements of Bardstown had just graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2009. He was beginning to plan the next steps in his career when a regular physical for his Type I diabetes changed his world.

At age 22, Twyman was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer which they’d worried had metastasized. Doctors told him that if they hadn’t caught it, he would have been dead before the end of the year.

Immediately, he began treatment at Flaget Memorial Hospital. The cancer center had not yet been built, so he took his chemotherapy inside the main hospital.

“I was thinking I was going to die,” said Twyman, who is now CEO, President and Co-Founder of Space Tango, a Lexington-based company which manufactures high value products in microgravity via the International Space Station.

When you’re wrestling with life and death, Twyman said, you don’t want to have to worry about incremental stresses like traveling away from home.

Having the comfort of being in Bardstown, where his mom knew the nurses and the drive home was 15 minutes at most was a relief, he said.

For more inspiring stories of hope or to learn more about Project Hope and how you can get involved, visit Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation.

Maggie’s Light

Maggie's Light

Emily and Kevin Turner turned the grief that swept over them as they held their lifeless newborn daughter into a mission to help others facing the devastating loss of a child and to honor the memory of their stillborn daughter, Magdelena (Maggie).

“Maggie changed my mission in life, to help guide others, to help others learn to walk with grief,” Emily said.

The couple started Maggie’s Light, a nonprofit that raises funds for bereavement kits that include comforting books, a handmade blanket, journals and more for families who have lost a child. They recently donated bereavement kits and a cuddle cot for stillborn babies to Saint Joseph East through the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation. The cuddle cots are valued at $3,000 each.

Debbie Gibbons, RN, a labor and delivery nurse at Saint Joseph East, runs the hospital’s bereavement program, which she started in 1999.

No other Lexington hospital has a bereavement program as extensive as Saint Joseph East, Gibbons said. They offer a prayer service and burial for miscarried babies every other month at Calvary Cemetery. Since the service began in 2015, more than 500 remains have been buried. They also offer palliative care to families who have received a diagnosis that is life limiting to their baby.

“Emily has been able to take that pain, that sadness and really keep moving forward with it,” Gibbons said. “Not everybody is able to do that. It takes a special person.”

Emily said her faith in God helped her through her pain, and she shares that with others who are in similar situations. In addition to Maggie, who would be 5 this year, Emily and her husband have three kids, Vaughn, 16, Morgan, 4, and Isaiah, 3.

“If I have a mom who is struggling a bit, I can connect her to Emily and Emily will be able to talk with her and offer encouragement,” Gibbons said.

Maggie’s Light is now raising money to make more bereavement kits available at every KentuckyOne hospital. She hopes to provide these kits next to the Birthing Center at Saint Joseph London.

Life-changing Procedure for Chronic Pancreatitis

Life-changing Procedure for Chronic Pancreatitis

Life-changing Procedure for Chronic Pancreatitis

Richard Sutton knew something was wrong roughly four years ago after going to the hospital a third time for an acute attack of pancreatitis.

In total, he had four attacks within eight months. After the third attack, his doctor told him it was chronic pancreatitis.

Richard had been battling stomach problems his entire life, but with pancreatitis, the pain was excruciating. He could feel the pain in the upper left quadrant of his stomach and his upper left back. It was severe pain that immobilized him to the point that he couldn’t move and was doubled over. He would vomit anytime he tried to drink liquids.

His physician tried to place a stent in the pancreatic duct to relieve symptoms, but there was twisting in Richard’s pancreas and the bile wouldn’t drain. The stent only stayed in four-to-six weeks the first time and didn’t work. In February 2017, the doctor tried a second time, but his pancreas had so much calcification on it, the stent again wouldn’t work.

At this point, Richard was referred to the Pancreas Disease Center at Jewish Hospital and met Medical Director, Dr. Michael Hughes for help. That’s where he learned about total pancreatectomy with islet auto-transplantation procedure. During the summer of 2017, he received news he’d receive the surgery, where his pancreas would be removed and the insulin-producing islet cells would be isolated in a cleanroom facility, and then infused into his liver, helping reduce the severity of diabetes after removal of the pancreas.

While Richard is now a diabetic, he already had prediabetes before the surgery and was told in advance of the condition. It was also explained to him that without the procedure, he’d have to have his pancreas completely removed within two to three years.

After his September 2017 surgery, Richard recovered in the hospital for about a week, and was able to get back to his landscaping business in around four to five weeks. He didn’t have any complications, and the chronic pain from the pancreas was gone, although he still experienced some phantom pain from time to time. While he still has some pain from surgery, that is expected to be gone a year after surgery.

Richard is extremely thankful and has zero regrets about having this Auto Islet procedure. He calls it life-changing, and says it has improved the quality of his life drastically. As a 35-year old man with a wife and two children (ages 14 and 12), he is thankful to be leading a normal life again with his family.

The Pancreas Disease Center is part of Jewish Hospital Transplant Care. If you would like to learn more about organ donation, join us on Thursday, April 26 at the Kentucky Derby Festival Health Fair at 4th Street Live from 4 to 8 p.m. During the event, we’ll be providing information about organ donation, the Trager Transplant Center and ways you can help make a difference. 

Double Lung Transplant Patient Shares Story of Hope

Double Lung Transplant Gives Patient a Brighter Future

Double Lung Transplant Gives Patient a Brighter Future

Zack Barnum has never known life without cystic fibrosis. Diagnosed with the disease only seven days after his birth, the early prognosis was not good.

Zack Barnum“When I was born, the average life expectancy was maybe living to be a teenager,” said Zack. “As I’ve gotten older and more medical breakthroughs have happened, the average life expectancy is now in the 30s to 40s for someone with cystic fibrosis.”

Those medical breakthroughs enabled Zack to get through life. What he called “occasional tune-ups” consisted of hospital stays for something as simple as a cold.  Zack soldiered on though, knowing that someday his life could be saved by a double lung transplant.

“I joked to myself and to my family that I wanted to make it to age 40, and then things could fall apart,” said Zack. “Though it wasn’t the intent; it sort of happened just that way – I probably should’ve picked a different number.”

At age 40, the infections Zack used to fight off suddenly got more serious. His lung function decreased to 15 percent, and without a double lung transplant; he was given only six months to live.

With only two-and-a-half months of life expectancy left, Zack received his transplant. Even though several complications led to an extended hospital stay, Zack was amazed at the changes that had taken place once leaving the hospital.

“I came out of the hospital after being there for five-and-a-half weeks, and everything had bloomed,” said Zack. When I went to the hospital, trees were barren; when I came out, everything was in full bloom. That was so impactful to me – you spend this time in the hospital and the world around you changes.”

Even though there were dramatic changes in nature and in the world around him in those few weeks, Zack’s recovery would take time.

“Walking home, getting up three steps was difficult,” said Zack. “That’s even after doing physical therapy in the hospital and trying to move around. I pretty much came in the door and collapsed on the couch. For the next month, it was moving from the couch to the bed with my wife and kids trying to help take care of me.”

Slowly but surely, Zack recovered. There was no more need for oxygen. His lung function skyrocketed to 90 percent, and he was able to start enjoying things in life, like bike-riding. A future that at one point could only be measured in weeks, now seemed much brighter.

“I hope that the future holds for me that I get to see my kids graduate from high school – that would be wonderful, said Zack. “I would love to see my kids get married someday and to have that first dance with them; I think that’s what all dads think of when they have daughters.”

Five years prior to his surgery, Zack moved from Indianapolis to Louisville. He knew that when the day came for his lung transplant surgery, he wanted to be close to both his family and Jewish Hospital.

As a national leader in organ transplantation, Jewish Hospital has performed more than 5,000 transplants over more than three decades.

“I’ve been given an opportunity to be alive again,” said Zack. “I want to share that same chance with others, and help raise funds for Jewish Hospital, for organ donation and for cystic fibrosis research and treatment. It’s critical to give other people the same opportunity that I have been given.”

April is National Donate Life Month. If you would like to learn more about organ donation, join us on Thursday, April 26 at the Kentucky Derby Festival Health Fair at 4th Street Live from 4 to 8 p.m. During the event, we’ll be providing information about organ donation, the Trager Transplant Center and ways you can help make a difference. 

A Better Solution for Tremor

A Better Solution for Tremor

Kathleen Prezocki’s essential tremor had progressed to the point that compromised her quality of life.

“It was affecting me in eating, writing and speech,” Prezocki said. “The medicine was not allowing me to control the symptoms anymore. Trying to put a necklace on and trying to get that hook in there — my goodness that was frustrating!”

Prezocki’s physicians suggested deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy, and she decided it was time to take the next step. She was the first patient in the region to receive the St. Jude device. Joseph Neimat, MD, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Louisville, implanted Prezocki’s DBS device at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health.

Since receiving the device, Prezocki has been able to stop taking tremor medications. Her ability to write is improved and she is able to play bridge without a cardholder.

Kathleen Prezocki and Dr. Neimat

Kathleen Prezocki (left) credits deep brain stimulation with helping her now perform daily life tasks easier. Joseph Neimat, MD, (right) implanted Prezocki’s device at Jewish Hospital.

This story originally appeared in the 2017 Fall edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.

 

A Judge’s Journey of Healing

A Judge's Journey of Healing

A Judge's Journey of Healing

After surviving a devastating automobile accident, County District Judge Leigh Anne Stephens found healing at Saint Joseph Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health.

On the evening of June 29, 2015, the life of Judge Stephens changed forever.

“My cousin and I were in the car driving down a two-lane road with my dogs when a driver came flying around the curve,” Judge Stephens said. “A mountain was on one side and a river on the other, so there was nowhere to go. At 7:28 p.m., a man who had been in my courtroom once for drunk driving hit my car head on, killing himself and one of my dogs, Judge Butterscotch.”

The Impact of the Accident

Though Judge Stephens, her cousin and one of her dogs survived the collision, they required serious medical intervention from the closest medical facility, Appalachian Regional Hospital.

Judge Stephens had a broken left leg and shattered heel bone. But that wasn’t the full extent of the consequences the accident would have on her health. She later developed an infection from her injuries and sought treatment at Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington.

With the support of Frank Burke, MD, with the Saint Joseph Wound Center and board-certified foot and ankle surgery specialist Bradford Fine, DPM, Judge Stephens underwent a robust regimen of treatments to manage the infection. The team administered antibiotics, performed surgery and ultimately had to amputate her left foot.

“I look back on that time, and I think that they knew I was going to eventually lose the foot. But their first priority was to save my life,” Judge Stephens said. “I have never felt so cared for, loved and encouraged.”

Healing and Hope

Following the amputation, Judge Stephens received hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Saint Joseph Wound Center and has been steadily adjusting to a series of prosthetics. The course of treatment she received has been boosted by the faith-filled friendships she cultivated at Saint Joseph Hospital.

“Having people around to share faith and pray with me was the best possible scenario,” Judge Stephens said. “The doctors and nurses saved my life and healed my spirit. I may have lost my foot, but I am so very blessed.”

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Summer edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.

Your Support Makes All the Difference

Grateful patients and families are among the largest supporters of the mission of Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation. Have the dedicated providers at your local hospital made a difference in your life? Giving back can make a big difference in the lives of others.

Share your story or make a donation of your time or money to support the life-saving work and rehabilitation at Saint Joseph Hospital.

Quick Action and Treatment for Stroke Recovery

Patient Story - Jo Mae

When Jo Mae arrived at the Saint Joseph Hospital emergency room, the ER team knew immediately she was having a stroke.

Jo Mae was experiencing facial drooping, difficulty speaking and weakness on one side of her body. These are common symptoms of stroke, which can occur when blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced.

Knowing that quick treatment was important, the Saint Joseph Hospital stroke team provided a blood clot-bursting medicine that restored blood flow in Jo Mae’s brain.

Thanks to her quick arrival at the hospital and the appropriate treatment, Jo Mae has no deficits from her stroke.

Watch the video below to hear her story.

Warning Signs and Common Symptoms of Stoke

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke

  • Facial Drooping — Ask the individual to smile. Is one side of his or her face drooping downward?
  • Arms — Next, ask him or her to raise both arms and note whether one drifts downward.
  • Slurred or Strange Speech — Finally, ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is it correct? Is his or her speech difficult to understand?
  • Time — If someone has these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Don’t put off medical attention, even if the symptoms disappear.

Recognizing and responding to symptoms of stroke right away could save a life. Learn more about stroke symptoms, including risk factors, and see our list of Frequently Asked Questions

 

Jason Everson Discusses Sleep Studies at Jewish Hospital Shelbyville [Video]

Jason Everson Discusses Sleep Studies at Jewish Hospital Shelbyville

Jason Everson Discusses Sleep Studies at Jewish Hospital Shelbyville

Are you or a loved one losing sleep? A sleep study can help to diagnose sleep apnea and other sleep conditions so you can begin treatment and be on your way to feeling more rested.

In this HealthBreak we hear from cardiopulmonary manager Jason Everson as he discusses the Sleep Center at Jewish Hospital Shelbyville.

Sleep Study Video Transcript

 

If you snore, have daytime sleepiness or stop breathing while asleep, Jewish Hospital Shelbyville can provide a sleep study to help determine the cause.

Jason Everson explains.

Jason Everson, Cardiopulmonary Manager

 

Patients will come in and they will spend the night with us. They will be connected to several monitors to monitor their airway, chest movement and their brainwaves. We watch their snoring. Their leg movement.

Using this data doctors can often diagnose sleep apnea and recommend a treatment, like continuous positive airway pressure.

We would put a mask on you of some sort: a full face mask, a nasal mask or what we call nasal pillows, and they would push air into your airways while you sleep to keep that airway open so you do not snore, have those interruptions and wake up.

You will not be as sleepy during the day and just feel more refreshed.

Preparing for a sleep study? View our list of frequently asked questions. For more information, call 502.647.4052.