Sunday, December 14, 2008

5 years!

Monday, December 15th, 2008 marks my 5 year transplant anniversary. Some people may refer to this as a birthday. Every year I look up on UNOS various statistics regarding the biggest event of my life. Statistics are a crazy creature. Usually I find they are used to desensitize an event or a situation. I guess it depends on what side of them you are on. For example, if you read that there was a 6.7% unemployment rate in the US in November, does it mean much to you unless you or a close loved one is one of those unemployed people?

However, my statistical journey is somewhat different. I use it to remind me each year how lucky I am. I'm not sure if lucky is the correct word, but I'll use it for simplicity. The truth is the amount of self-preservation skills it takes to survive what I've done is astounding. I'm sure to some it seems very selfish at times, and part of surviving still revolves around letting that go. So, I'll apologize quickly if you ever felt I let you down, by not hanging out when you asked, or not helping out when needed, but please know that each day I have to make decisions that are more primal, and are driven by keeping my life very balanced, and keeping me very alive.

So, on with the stats:

In 2003, 1,085 people received a lung transplants in the United States. That year, 25,472 transplants of all types were performed in the US. Less than 5% of all transplants in the country that year were lung transplant. And I was one of them.

35 of those 2003 lung transplants were repeat transplants. I wonder if I'll be one of those one year. But, so far so good.

140 of those transplants were people my age, 18-34. The most lung transplants, 604, went to people age 50-64 years. 69 of the 140 in my age group were women, 71 were men.

About half of the people receiving lung transplants in 2003 are still alive. I am still one of them.

25 people my age had lung transplants at Duke University in 2003 and 2004 combined. I know a handful of them, but not all of them. 22 of them have Cystic Fibrosis. 1 had IPF, that is Andrew. 1 has "other", "other" being lymphangiomatosis. Jana, please correct my spelling if needed. I use had for IPF only, because Cystic Fibrosis and lymphangiomatosis don't go away. Occasionally, I'm reminded of that.

So, to those of my friends that haven't survived the journey we started together that year at Duke, I miss you and think of you often. I'm sure you are watching me from your place in heaven and have pumped all of your life-force into me. To those, I dedicate every moment whether it be fun, sad, serious, or silly - because we all had the same goal, of having more of those everyday moments.


All statistics, except employment, recovered from the UNOS database on 12/13/2008.