After a lifetime of breathing difficulties, Janice McNamara of Rahway can
now finish a sentence without coughing. “It’s the first thing
my friends mentioned after the transplant,” said Janice, who received
a lung transplant at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center just four months ago.
For the first time in years, Janice, a former flight attendant, can do
the things she has been longing for — to travel beyond her front
door to attend her daughter’s high school activities and get on
a plane with her husband to see her friend get married in Hawaii.
Diagnosed with asthma and bronchitis as a teenager, Janice never let her
lung disease hold her back. “In my 20s and 30s I just pushed through
it, but by the time I was 50, things were getting bad – I felt like
I was 80,” Janice remembered.
In hopes of undergoing a revolutionary new asthma treatment, Janice visited
the Barnabas Health Lung Center in 2010. After a thorough evaluation,
the pulmonary specialists told her that she was not eligible for the asthma
treatment because she did not have asthma. Instead, they diagnosed her
lung disease as bronchiectasis and explained that the damage to her lungs
was severe enough to make her eligible for lung transplantation.
Janice lived with supplemental oxygen for the next two years while she
waited for her transplant. After the first year, compatible lungs became
available but, she was healing from a broken bone in her foot and was
not able to walk. Since standing and walking are primary steps in the
recovery from lung transplant, she would have to continue her wait.
“I remember when the call came. It was 11:30 at night and I thought,
this can’t be good news.” To her surprise, it was the call
she had been eagerly awaiting. Janice and her husband hurried to Newark
Beth Israel Medical Center.
“When you get to the point that you just can’t breathe, you
stop being scared and just want to move forward,” she said. “I
wanted to live.”
Janice’s zest for life and her commitment to remain as strong and
healthy as she could prior to the transplant helped her overcome the challenges
“The hospital staff was phenomenal. They encouraged me everyday to
take a deep breath, but I just couldn’t. My chest felt so tight,” she said.
Then, after several weeks with assistance from a ventilator, Janice began
filling her new lungs herself.
Today, she continues her therapy and is making great progress. Janice was
delighted to watch her daughter’s marching band in the local Memorial
Day Parade. She and her husband also returned to the hospital recently
to thank the Lung Center staff that was so supportive in her recovery.
For information about the Barnabas Health Lung Center at Newark Beth Israel
Medical Center, call 973-926-4430 or log on to barnabashealth.org/lungcenter.
Date: June 20, 2013