Teanna Gentry
Lynn left, Carmel right 

Love and acupuncture helped a Burien woman overcome lung disease

April is Organ Donor Awareness month

By Teanna Gentry

Lynn and Carmel first met because of their shared love of acupuncture.  Carmel had recently been diagnosed with a rapidly progressing terminal lung disease.  Her disease was "idiopathic," which means that it was naturally occurring within her body and also quite rare.  In a group of one million people, only about fifteen people will develop this disease. 

Carmel said, "I was living on supplemental oxygen twenty-four-seven and my life revolved around almost daily medical appointments and doing whatever it took to stay alive.  I had explored every possible conventional medical intervention and yet my health continued to decline rapidly.  Lynn had lost her father to a different incurable lung disease many years earlier, and has a special interest in lung health. Lynn and I fell in love at first sight. 

“Five months after we began dating she asked me to marry her.  As our relationship progressed, so did my disease.  My pulmonologist decided that a double lung transplant was my only chance for survival.  It took two months for me to complete all of the necessary screenings to qualify for my transplant.  I was only listed for 19 days before I got "the call" that saved my life.  Because of the initial blast of immune suppression that organ recipients start with transplant to ensure that they will not reject their donated organ, it is imperative that the recipient be as healthy as possible prior to the surgery.  The night that I was called, I had a fever.  If you have a fever when you are called, you will not be considered for the organ and it will go to someone else. Lynn used her acupuncture skills to break my fever, and then we packed up and drove to the hospital.  During my month long stay in the hospital post transplant, I routinely received and benefited from acupuncture.  It helped to quell my anxiety, control my pain, and minimize the negative impact of medication side effects.  Acupuncture is as much a part of my transplant story as the organ itself."
Carmel said, "I am most grateful to be able to provide for others the type of loving community support that was so essential to me when I was so very sick.  Being so sick, living on life support, not knowing if I would stay alive from day to day, I was lucky enough to witness the absolute best in people.  I was surrounded with love and support.  My friends and family dropped everything to come to the hospital to be with me.  It changed me, and it changed them.  On several occasions, I was not expected to survive.  The people who showed up in my life as caretakers or caring community members gave me the strength to carry on."  

Lynn said, "Being in a situation where you must live moment by moment, you start to see that the present is really the only thing we have. You start to notice things, and it can become comfortable and beautiful. Sometimes in the most extreme situations you feel very alive and really notice the beauty that is always around us. There are less distractions, and it is a reminder that, if we stop and notice, we can do that all of the time.  This is part of why we chose the name Sloth Around.  It is an homage to the value of slowing down in order to truly show up for the life that you are living."

A happy ending
Lynn and Carmel's story has a happy ending because of organ donation and they are eternally grateful to everyone who is wiling to give the gift of life to another after they have passed on.  They would like to encourage everyone to take this moment to pull out their driver’s license and see if they are a registered organ donor.  Checking that box could be the difference between life or death.  To learn more about organ donation, please visit the website for Lifecenter Northwest at http://www.lcnw.org/.  You can also sign up to be an organ donor, or update your profile if you are already registered here: https://www.donatelifetoday.com/register_online/sign_up.php.

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