After months of dealing with a persistent cough, Kate Erd of Glendale, Wis. — a suburb of Milwaukee — was diagnosed with severe pneumonia. But treatment failed and her symptoms persisted.
Further testing determined she had a lung infection due to a rare environmental non-tuberculosis mycobacterium. For some people, such as Kate, it can cause a progressive and destructive lung disease.
Over the next couple of years, Kate visited other hospitals in hopes of finding a cure. Along the way, she received another diagnosis: Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an immune system disorder that also damages the lungs.
Ultimately, Kate learned the only way she was going to improve her quality of life was to undergo a lung transplant. She was placed on the wait list for a new set of lungs at a local transplant center.
After being listed, her lung collapsed while she was in her driveway. She was rushed to the nearest hospital, only to find out that her transplant center had stopped performing lung transplants. “It was an instant fear — like no other fear I have ever felt in my life,” she said. “I was in a state of shock.”
Kate’s insurance company recommended the UW Health Transplant Program in Madison, Wis., where a transplant coordinator immediately arranged for an ambulance transfer. Kate was listed at UW Health within a few days and just two days later, received her gift of life.
Now a few months post-transplant, Kate is feeling great. This busy grandma is planning an autumn trip to Walt Disney World with her adult children and her grandchildren, ages 9 and 7.
“I feel really good,” Kate said. “I think my recovery is nothing short of a miracle. Everything happened exactly as it should.”