Being Number 5 is the Best
Being fifth in the nation at anything is pretty special, but for Kim Lowery it's amazing. Kim is the nation's fifth longest surviving heart and double lung transplant recipient.
Physicians in Kim's hometown thought she had severe allergies, but when she went to her first grade screening, a physician happened to notice her and said, "That girl has heart issues."
Eventually, when her heart and lungs were badly failing, she came to UW Health to see if she could be helped. She met with pulmonologist Keith Meyer, MD.
"I remember her telling me that her brother carried her from room to room at home because she would get so short of breath just trying to walk a short distance," said Dr. Meyer.
Eisenmenger's Syndrome, a congenital disease that affects the heart, will eventually affect the lungs as well. It literally took Kim's breath away.
Kim's heart condition gradually worsened and by the time she was in her 30s, her heart was so weak that her lungs were working overtime to try to get enough oxygen into her bloodstream. They wore out, too, and Kim was listed for a double lung and heart transplant, the only thing that could save her.
"We waited anxiously for a matching donor for Kim, knowing that this was her only chance to have a better life," said Dr. Meyer.
That was 20 years ago.
"I wouldn't be here today without my donor's gift of life," said Kim. "I always thought I would die young, but he gave me a second chance at a beautiful life."
Watch Kim's Story