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. 

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

 

Finding Hope, One Step At a Time

Finding Hope, One Step At a Time

Finding Hope, One Step At a Time
When Eden Hoelscher became paralyzed during a simple gymnastic move, her family traveled across the country to get her back on her feet.

On Dec. 23, 2015, Eden was a typical 5-year-old playing with her older sister, Isabella, when the unthinkable happened. Eden was performing a backbend — a gymnastic and dance move she had done hundreds of times — when she fell to the ground in agony. She was paralyzed from the waist down.

“We were in absolute disbelief,” said Kylee Hoelscher, Eden’s mother. “We lived in Los Angeles at the time, and every hospital we took Eden to gave us the same answer: She was going to be paralyzed the rest of her life.”

Crossing the Country for Care

Eden HoelscherUnwilling to give up, Kylee and Nicholas, Eden’s father, moved their family to Louisville to work with the team at Frazier Rehab Institute, part of KentuckyOne Health. The team quickly earned the trust of the Hoelscher family.

“They made treatment fun for Eden and encouraged her goofy personality to come through,” Kylee said. “Some physicians and physical therapists just do what they were taught in school. At Frazier Rehab Institute, they look outside the box.”

Little Miracles

Within 50 days, Eden was able to take her first steps with the support of a friend named Violet, who was visiting Eden from California.

Kylee recalls Eden predicting the progress she made with her friend’s support.

“Eden said, ‘Violet loves me so much,’” Kylee recalled. “‘I think when she gets here, her love will be so strong it will make me walk.’”

During a physical therapy session, Eden and Violet had an imaginary swordfight. While the physical therapist held Eden up, she began taking steps toward Violet and eventually made it all the way around the room and into the hallway. The family will always remember the day she took those first steps.

Nicholas, Eden, Isabella and Kylee Hoelscher

Nicholas, Eden, Isabella and Kylee Hoelscher

Grateful for the support and life-changing care Eden has received, the Hoelscher family are now firm supporters of Frazier Rehab Institute. They routinely raise funds for Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation to support the facility that changed their daughter’s life, and invite the rest of the community to do the same.

“People come to Frazier Rehab Institute from all over the world. We want to give to a program that really makes a difference in the lives of children,” said Kylee.

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Spring edition of One Health magazine.

New Heart Means Second Chance for Versailles Patient

New Heart Means Second Chance

When physicians told Pat Sutherland she needed a heart transplant, she was stunned.

“Time just stopped,” the 57 year old said. “It was like Charlie Brown’s teacher was talking. All you could hear was, ‘Blah, blah, blah.’”

Sutherland had cardiomyopathy, a condition that makes it difficult for the heart to deliver blood to the body. Despite the distance between Louisville and her hometown of Versailles, Sutherland believed having her transplant at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, was the right choice.

“The day we found out about my new heart was the 15th anniversary of my dad’s death,” Sutherland said. “I felt like he was an angel floating around me.”

On March 23, 2016, Sutherland’s heart transplant was performed. During her 60-day stay in the coronary care unit, she bonded with her nurses.

“We became like a family,” Sutherland said. “No matter what kind of day they were having, they made sure I was doing OK and checked to see if I needed to go for a walk or needed a laugh.”

For her continuing recovery, Sutherland transitioned to the Healthy Lifestyle Center (HLC) at Saint Joseph Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health. Sutherland loves its fun crew.

“They laugh with you and encourage you if you’re having a hard time,” Sutherland said. “They have the know-how, and teach you how to use the machines, how to care for yourself and tips for healthful living.”

Sutherland hopes to one day meet her donor’s family and express her appreciation. She and many of her family members are now donors because of her experience.

“How many times do you get a second chance to live?” Sutherland asked. “What a blessing it is to be able to thank the Lord and people for everything they’ve done for me.”

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Winter edition of One Health magazine. For more stories like this one and news and information on heart health, subscribe to One Health today.