Cystic Fibrosis Sufferer Meets Donor of Life-saving Transplant
While undergoing a lung transplantation does come with risks, it can greatly improve the span and quality of one’s life. One such example is the case of Selwa Mitchell, a 39-year-old woman from Dallas, Texas whose life was saved by undergoing a donor lung transplant.
Photo credit: The Selwa Mitchell Story | Official Trailer - Fotolanthropy
Lung transplantation can improve the condition and length of one’s life. Selwa Mitchell, a 39-year-old woman from Dallas, Texas, is one such case of a life saved by a lung transplant. Kimber Spinks is the mother of Kendall, an 18-year-old girl who died in a car accident. After Kendall’s death, Kimber decided to donate her daughter’s organs to save the life of an individual in need. Selwa Mitchell, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, ended up receiving Kendall’s lungs, for which she hugged and thanked her mother profusely.
At the age of three, Selwa was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Her doctor’s did not expect her to live past her seventh birthday. However, she lived through her teen years, went to college, got married, and had two children. Her success was possible due to advancements in technology. Unfortunately, her lung function eventually dropped by 22 percent, and that same year, her name was put on an organ transplant list. She recalls becoming weak and tired and wanting to give up. Then, after three months, she received a call. She was told they had found her a match. From Kendall, she received new lungs after a successful operation on June 25th. For Selwa, meeting Kendall’s mother and sister was an emotional moment. Thanks to the lung transplantation, her lung function improved from 22 percent to 96 percent. She could now breathe normally.
An organization that works with families of donors and recipients gave Selwa permission to write to her donor’s family. After having several online conversations for about five months, Kimber and Kendall’s older sister made a brave choice: they decided to meet Selwa in person for the first time. Selwa shared this moment on Instagram; she wanted to display her emotional experience with these selfless people who saved her life. Kimber recalled that she did face some difficulty in coming to terms with Selwa having Kendall’s lungs. The mother waited until the first anniversary of her daughter’s death to arrange the meeting. The moment Kimber met Selwa, she burst out crying because she knew Selwa had Kendall’s DNA. She now considers Selwa a part of the family and hopes to have a lifelong friendship with her. They both encourage others to become organ donors. Selwa fights for and supports this cause. She feels it is important to have conversations with your family about your organs after death. Kimber shared that she wants to raise awareness about organ donation and cystic fibrosis in memory of Kendall. Cystic fibrosis causes problems in the digestive and respiratory tracts, which reduce a person’s ability to breathe normally, and this can cause recurrent lung infections. Thick mucus builds up in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs due to a faulty gene, leading to a variety of problematic symptoms.
According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Patient Registry, every year in the United States, over 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed. At present, there is no cure for this disease. However, the symptoms can be improved through several treatments, which would ease the patient’s standard of living. These treatments include:
- Antibiotics, which help prevent lung infection
- Medications that reduce inflammation in the airways
- Medications that eliminate mucus build-up
- Medications that help absorb food
- Lung transplants