First meeting at UPMC

Dear family, dear friends, hello again!

April 6 was our first day at UPMC. It started at 8am sharp, included 4 meetings and ended with 30 tubes of blood drawn from me and a 3-hour nap. The last one was particularly good.

—Below are some medical details that could scare some. Sorry for that! —

We met Pablo Sanchez, who is the head of the Division for Lung Transplantation and Lung Failure at UPMC. He impressed me by his calmness, clear thinking and pragmatic approach. He was reassuring and said that even though my case was not particularly easy, they had experience in dealing with all of the envisaged obstacles. UPMC will spend 95% of the time preparing the surgery, and only 5% doing it. Putting it simply for us, he explained: “In the end we will open you up, look at your lungs and your heart and proceed as need be.” Simple and clear enough for me. He also mentioned that I was a good candidate for the lung transplant because of my young age and relatively good physical condition. The best way to prepare for me is to remain physically active and eat a lot. Finally, he reminded us that the lung transplant was the easy step of a long treatment process.

We are soon to meet Dr. Paul Szabolcs, the hematologist and the sponsor of the clinical trial. His name is more difficult to spell than you might think. He is the one who needs to make three miracles happen against the disbelief of his European colleagues:

1) Immediately post lung transplant – find the right balance between risk of lung rejection and risk of being too aggressive to my already weak bone marrow.

2) Once I am back on my feet with the new lungs – perform a bone marrow transplant with a donor who is only partially matched, BUT whose lungs I already accepted.

3) As a bonus – try getting me off the immunosuppressant therapy that usual transplant patients have for life. Big cost saving! : )

Dr. Paul Szabolcs has already done it, and not once. I am looking forward to helping him prove to the whole world that he is right again.


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