A Miracle Story – Deanna Peacock

Our friend Deanna Peacock was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis five years ago in 2007, and two years ago in 2010 began to live on oxygen. On September 12th, 2011 she was placed on the Lung Transplant list at Toronto General Hospital (TGH), one of the top three hospitals in the world for lung transplants. This required that she go to the hospital for physiotherapy and regular clinics in Toronto three times a week for three months and then once a week in Toronto & twice a week in Orillia until surgery. By May of 2012 after a bout of pneumonia, her lungs were functioning at 22% and by mid July she was losing function more quickly and her lungs were likely only functioning at between 18 and 12%. By the time she was called for surgery they were functioning around 6%.

But where was the miracle in all of this? Throughout all of this Deanna had an amazing positive outlook and faith that she would be a lucky recipient of a donor lung. She was supported by many friends and relatives who surrounded her with love, light and prayers. And many of these friends broadened the circle of prayer and caring with their own churches and friends, so that she was being loved and supported by people across the country from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Sunday Feb 26th, 2012 Deanna was called to the hospital for a transplant, and after being fully prepped and waiting all night was told the lungs were not viable. Although disappointed she was able to look at the experience as a ‘trial run’ and add to the plan already in place.

Five months later on July 21st at 7:40 AM Deanna received ‘the call’ that the hospital ‘had a set of lungs’ for her and that she was to be in Toronto in two hours. Arriving at 10:00AM and after admission and x-rays, blood work and ECG, etc we waited for seven hours to find out if the lungs were viable and if the surgery would go ahead. Meditations, prayers and gratitude were what kept Deanna grounded and positive throughout the day. Just before 5:00PM they came in to tell Deanna that she would be going into surgery in 10 minutes! The donor lungs were good. Then… we all waited for another eight hours to hear the outcome. At just after 1:00AM July 22nd a doctor came in to tell us that the surgery was completed and that it had gone very well. Her lungs were ‘breathing’ on their own. An hour later we were able to visit her in ICU and see her all hooked up with ventilator and lots of tubes and machines, but remarkably not as many as one might have thought. We were so grateful for the miracle of this surgery, and the miracle of some wonderful family who had donated their loved one’s lungs.

And here is the next part of the miracle. Deanna’s recovery was amazing. The doctors reported that Deanna was in the top 10% of recoveries – successful, speedy and with minimal complications. Her ventilator was removed within 24 hours, and she was moved to the ward within a few days. The nurses and staff at TGH were more than wonderful and amazingly well trained. They called her a ‘Super Star’. Every day there were amazing changes and healing. First all the drainage tubes were removed, then there was the first time where she was breathing without any oxygen, then the long walk to the food court, and then walking outside for about a block. This was a particularly emotional moment for Deanna… first time walking with her new lungs, walking with new energy and barely any oxygen support. Within two weeks it was thought that she would go home, but as it turned out, Deanna needed another few days to get rid of some infections, and have a Bronchoscopy to check for rejection. For the rest of her life she will need to be on many medications for anti rejection, for immune suppressants, for antibiotics, and much more, and daily monitor her temperature, blood pressure, and keep track of other bodily functions. All of this helps the doctors know if rejection or infection is beginning.

She was totally surrounded with family and a few friends throughout her hospital stay, and kept contact with everyone through her trusty phone and text messaging. Nineteen (19) days after her surgery Deanna was sent home… The Doctors said this was still amazingly soon for most lung transplant recipients. Standing in her own driveway at home, Deanna was overcome by the emotion of gratitude and realization that the transplant surgery had been successful. She was truly home.

Fully four weeks later Deanna attended the first of 12 Clinic days in Toronto. There they reassured her that she was doing very well, that no rejection was happening, and that she could now be without oxygen unless her oxygen stats fell below a certain level. On Aug 18th, Deanna was without oxygen 99.9 % of the time, finally breathing completely on her own. She went out to a potluck dinner with friends without even taking her oxygen tank with her, and had slept for the first time in two years without oxygen. All in only 4 weeks. Truly remarkable.

We have noticed a wonderful difference in Deanna’s voice… so much stronger, and vibrant. Her energy is remarkably improved, returning to the old Deanna after so many years. Just recently she mentioned that she had done some snow shovelling. Last Christmas, even peeling a potato was an effort.

What followed were trips to Toronto General Hospital three times a week for the next three months. She had a wonderful group of family and friends who drove her as she will not be allowed to drive for those three months. Three month check up, Bronchoscopes, Plasmapheresis procedures, and regular check ups and we can report that Deanna is still doing remarkably well. Her Respirologist in Orillia thinks it is amazing that she has had no infection and continues to do so well. They are still checking for infections, rejection, and good balance of drugs in her blood stream, good heart, lung, kidney and liver functions. At the end of January 2013 it will be six months since surgery. And although she is doing well, she is aware of friends who have had similar transplants and have had significant struggles and experience some rejection. All the more reason to be grateful for each and every day.

And Deanna feels that she has been given a second chance at life. She says the experience has changed her, that she is a different person, and that she now “sees life differently”. She sees the miracles in the small things and is overwhelmed and grateful with the love and support that has surrounded her. This circle of love and prayer has included two churches in Orillia, and two churches near Peterborough, and spanned from the East Coast to the West Coast and included England, Poland, and the Netherlands. And in turn, those of us who have been part of this journey have experienced the miracle of gratitude and love as well, spreading the joyous word about her miraculous surgery and recovery, and seeing other people share in the miracle and gratitude, and in turn be grateful for their lives, and putting their own struggles in perspective.

Deanna is very grateful for her new lungs, for the donor of her lungs, and for the generous gift of these lungs from her donor’s family. This family was particularly in her thoughts this Christmas, remembering that that family would be missing their loved one during this special holiday, while she was celebrating being alive.

Deanna is also passionate about the importance of all of us making sure we register our intention at www.beadonor.ca to donate our organs when the time comes. When we register, we can be the same gift to someone else, and can possibly save up to 8 other people and enhance the lives of up to 75 more people. A 93 year old friend recently registered his intention to be a donor, so we call all do so.

May we all share in this wonderful miracle and be grateful for our own lives, health, family, friends, community, and so much more.

With gratitude, Margot Crowder Davidson, friend of Deanna.

Deanna Peacock
Double Lung Transplant, July 22, 2012
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