Lung transplant

Curt gets a new chance at life after lung transplant

Curt Coshenet smiling.

Curt Coshenet isn’t the type of guy who ever wants to slow down. When he attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout, he played football, and now he runs the dining services department at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. So, it was especially frustrating for him when he began having to carry an oxygen tank around all the time.

Curt first learned he suffered from pulmonary fibrosis in late 2019. He met with transplant doctors at a hospital in Minnesota in May 2020, but the process to get on the wait list for a lung transplant was very slow. Once he was on the waitlist, he waited. And waited.

While that hospital was not a lung transplant center of excellence according to Curt’s insurance company, University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin is. Curt also had a friend who underwent a lung transplant in Madison and had good things to say about the care she received. In January 2021, Curt decided to “enlarge his circles” for potential lung donors and pursue dual listing with UW Health.

“At around that time, my health started getting worse fast,” says Curt. “The doctors I saw at UW Health said I was the epitome of a candidate for a lung transplant, so I hoped my name would come up soon.”

It did—just six days after Curt got his name on the wait list through UW Health. After receiving the call that a pair of lungs had become available, Curt drove from his home in Winona, Minnesota, to Madison. But it turned out to be a “dry run”—doctors determined the lungs were not suitable for donation. He and his girlfriend began the drive home, only to receive another phone call just a few miles away from their house. There was another set of lungs waiting for Curt. “It was just a really emotional, crazy 24 hours,” he says.

Curt received his gift of life on March 27, 2021. He spent 16 days in the hospital, then moved to an extended stay hotel with his girlfriend and dogs for two weeks so doctors could keep a close eye on his health. “Kudos to the men and women who took care of me,” he says. “Some of my nurses went to Winona State University, so we had some common ground for conversations.”

Just two months after his transplant, Curt went back to work at St. Mary’s. He was able to kiss his oxygen tank goodbye, and while he still requires many different medications to protect his new lungs, he’s grateful not to be huffing and puffing anymore.

“It’s hard to describe to people what it’s like to not be able to breathe,” he says. “It was just so hard to live my life. I now take the stairs at work, push-mow my half-acre of lawn, and I’m back to playing golf. I don’t always hit straight, so then I get more walking in.”

“I’d like to thank my great support system of wonderful, caring doctors, nurses and especially family and friends,” he continues. “They kept my recovery going in the right direction when every day wasn’t easy, but it beats the alternative.”