PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh's UPMC hospitals are one of the most recognized and experienced lung and heart-lung transplant centers in the world. A patient in Pittsburgh, while waiting for a double lung transplant, is using her time by starting a fundraising campaign with the goal of improving outcomes for all transplant patients.
"I was given a prognosis at Stanford that nobody would give me a transplant, and basically sent home to die within a couple of years," Mallory Smith, who's now receiving treatment at UPMC.
The 24-year-old moved with her mother to Pittsburgh in February. Mallory has cystic fibrosis, complicated by a rare bacteria that is associated with poorer outcomes. As a result, UPMC is the only transplant center that has been willing to help her.
"They are taking a chance on me when nobody else would," Mallory said.
"It's important to put a face on transplants. There are so many people waiting. Organs are so hard to come by. Mallory is so deserving," said Diane Shader Smith, Mallory's mother.
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While living on the waiting list is excruciating, Mallory and Diane have formed a mother-daughter team and use the time to address the issue that everyone who undergoes transplantation faces: rejection.
"Chronic rejection is one of the biggest problems people face after transplant. One doctor I know calls it the 'Grim Reaper of transplants,'" Mallory said.
With the help of friends across the country, Mallory and Diane launched Lunges 4 Lungs, a social media campaign similar to the ice bucket challenge. Like the ice bucket challenge, they're hoping it goes viral.
"I see lunges as a sort of symbol of something that's taken away from people with cystic fibrosis, and something that can be regained after transplant," Mallory said.
Contributors donate money per lunge, post the video online and then challenge friends to do the same.
"We want her to get this second chance for life," Diane said.
The goal is to raise $65,000 for anti-rejection research. The number 65 is significant, because "65 roses" is how many young children pronounce "cystic fibrosis" when they're initially diagnosed.
Mallory has been blogging about her experience living on the transplant list. You can read her blog at https://medium.com/@mallorybsmith/dry-runs-one-and-two-d1b2623cb6ec.
To learn more about the Lunges 4 Lungs project, visit http://lunges4lungs.org/.
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