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.

Trager Transplant Center Selected for National Study, Holiday Safety Tips and More News

KentuckyOne Health News and Events

KentuckyOne Health News and Events

Below is your weekly roundup of KentuckyOne Health news.

Transplant Center at Jewish Hospital Only Kentucky Hospital Selected for National Study

Louisville, Ky. (June 22, 2017) – The Trager Transplant Center at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, has been selected to participate in the second pilot phase of the Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network (COIIN), a three-year project intended to increase kidney utilization and study new methods of quality monitoring.

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Saint Joseph London Foundation Unveils Patti Mink Educational Endowment

Saint Joseph London Foundation, part of KentuckyOne Health, will honor longtime hospital pharmacy director, Patti Mink, by establishing a permanent educational endowment in her name.

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Take Precautions During Fourth of July Celebration to Avoid Injuries

Louisville, Ky. (June 15, 2017) – The Fourth of July and fireworks go hand in hand, and while bright lights and loud bursts will soon fill the air to signify the national holiday, thousands of people will spend it in the emergency room, suffering from a fireworks-related injury.

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Summer Safety Tips, New Outreach Clinic, Orthopedic Treatment Options and More News

KentuckyOne Health News and Events

Summer Safety Tips, New Outreach Clinic, Orthopedic Treatment Options and More News

Below is your weekly roundup of KentuckyOne Health news.

KentuckyOne Health Encourages Summer Safety

Louisville, Ky. (June 8, 2017) –With summer upon us, KentuckyOne Health is encouraging all Kentuckians to stay safe while enjoying outdoor activities.

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Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center Opens New Outreach Clinic in Bowling Green

Bowling Green, Ky. (June 7, 2017) – The Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center, part of KentuckyOne Health, has opened a new outreach clinic in Bowling Green that will help patients in need of transplant evaluations.

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Saint Joseph London to Discuss Orthopedic Injuries and Treatment Options During Bite Size Learning Event

London, Ky. (June 7, 2017) – Saint Joseph London, part of KentuckyOne Health, invites the community to learn about common orthopedic injuries and conditions, as well as treatment options available, at the Bite Size Learning health education event on Wednesday, June 21.

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KentuckyOne Health Primary Care Associates Completes Renovation to Improve Patient Comfort and Flow

Berea, Ky. (June 5, 2017) – KentuckyOne Health Primary Care Associates has completed a renovation to upgrade its waiting room and improve patient comfort and flow, thanks to a $380,000 gift from the Saint Joseph Berea Foundation, part of KentuckyOne Health.

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Jewish Hospital Honored With Mission: Lifeline Gold-Plus Achievement Award

Louisville, Ky. (June 5, 2017) – Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, has received the Mission: Lifeline® Gold Receiving Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association for the treatment of patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

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Saint Joseph Mount Sterling Hits a Hole-In-One with Golf Tournament

Mt. Sterling, Ky. (June 5, 2017) – The Saint Joseph Mount Sterling Foundation, part of KentuckyOne Health, will host its annual golf tournament, presented by Maysville Community and Technical College, Montgomery Campus, on Thursday, June 22 at Indian Creek Golf Course in Mt. Sterling.

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Expanding Transplant Care

Expanding Transplant Care Thanks to $5.3 Million in Funding

Trager Transplant Center

One of the leading providers of organ transplantation in the country has a new home.

The Trager Transplant Center in downtown Louisville provides world-class transplantation services to Kentucky and the surrounding states. Overwhelming success in such a short time has taken the center from Jewish Hospital to the newly renovated third floor of the Frazier Rehab Institute — a space nearly twice the size.

The Trager Center is recognized as being one of the first in Kentucky to perform adult heart, pancreas and liver transplants. It’s also capable of implanting the latest technology — such as the ventricular assist device — to act as a transplant alternative.

The Trager Transplant Center ribbon cutting ceremony

Pictured: Leslie Buddeke Smart CFRE, division vice president, development; Kelly McMasters MD, chairman of the U of L department of surgery; Mark Slaughter MD, executive director of cardiovascular services for the KentuckyOne Health Louisville Market, chair of the department of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the University of Louisville; Amy Trager; Jean Trager; Steve Trager; Michael Trager and Andrew Trager.

“We’ve certainly established a reputation in the region for high-quality care and incredible patient experiences,” said Joe Gilene, market president for the KentuckyOne Health downtown Louisville campus. “Many years of exceptional work, support from the Foundation and a generous gift from Jean and Bernard Trager in honor of their children and grandchildren have allowed us to expand our space to meet the rising demand.”

With the first procedure completed on Aug. 1, the new venue has already revealed numerous benefits, including:

  • Increased volume, thanks to expanding from six to 16 exam rooms
  • More comfort for patients and their families within a brighter area
  • Improved communication with four new consultation rooms
  • Updated education rooms to help answer patient questions and concerns
  • Additional space for on-site administrative and physician offices

“Our volume has greatly increased even from just two years ago,” said David Lewis, director of transplant services at KentuckyOne Health. “The new space allows us to take in more patients and, ultimately, save more lives.”

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of One Health Magazine