A few years ago, Edna Doberson began to feel tired and immediately knew something was wrong.
“I was short of breath,” she recalls, “and it was very debilitating. I never had a serious illness, so this was a big challenge to feel so badly.”
Edna started as an operating room attendant at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, where she was then promoted to the center core in the operating room. Her career there spanned more than 33 years and she retired in 2008. After retirement, she was as active as ever until forced to slow down due to her health.
She went to the doctor and was told her problem was asthma, but she knew something else was happening in her body. “My breathing was more difficult every day and I continued to feel faint,” she adds.
Edna was referred to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, and after a thorough evaluation was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)/interstitial lung disease. The cause of IPF is unknown but its symptoms point to a chronic oxygen deficiency in the blood.
Edna was shocked to learn she needed a lung transplant.
“I was added to the United Network of Organ Sharing list to wait for a donor,” she explains. “I was afraid I would be on the lung transplantation list for a long time but after four weeks I had my lung transplant surgery in October 2016.” She received a healthy left lung from a donor and her recovery was excellent.
“The evaluation process for a lung transplant is very comprehensive,” explains Soma Jyothula, MD, a pulmonary and critical care specialist who was Edna’s surgeon. Dr. Jyothula is medical director of the Lung Transplant Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and an assistant professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.
Patients are evaluated by one of the transplant pulmonologists, and each has a medical, psychological and social evaluation. Most patients with severe, end-stage lung disease can be considered for a lung transplant, especially when their quality of life is affected. “Our exceptional multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals works very hard to provide a successful outcome,” he adds.
“Edna was a great a patient,” he says, “and our team enjoyed her positive attitude.”
“No one can really tell you what the experience is like,” she explains. “You have to go through it to understand.”
She has advice for anyone facing a serious illness. “Do whatever the doctors and nurses tell you to do and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
She also emphasizes the importance of a positive attitude. “Live every day to its fullest and have faith,” she adds.
Edna discovered that support means everything. “You can’t do this by yourself,” she says. “My husband and my daughter accompanied me to my appointments and everyone has been looking out for me throughout the whole experience.”
Today, Edna is more energetic, but most importantly, she can breathe easily again.
“I am very grateful,” she says. “I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Soma and his team at Memorial Hermann-TMC,” she explains. “They saved my life.”