Lung Transplant: Eleanor Joyce Korta

"Living life to the fullest and realizing it"

Eleanor Joyce Korta could barely make it to the top of a staircase without stopping to rest and catch her breath. Shopping was a chore and she could no longer be alone with her grandchildren.

Eleanor had lived with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis for several years, but in 1998, the lung condition had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. This rare disease mistakenly triggers the body's natural immune system to fight a non-existent infection. It leaves the lungs weak and brittle, and eventually, completely useless. There is no known cure, and the damaging results are irreversible. By the time she was 59, Eleanor wasn't able to go anywhere without a portable oxygen supply.

"Everything was such an effort," she says. "Basically, I worked, came home and crashed." In early 1999, she and her physician, David Rein, MD, a pulmonary specialist at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center, began to discuss the possibility of lung transplantation.

"It was really my only option," says Eleanor. "My illness was rapidly advancing, and without a new lung, I would've died."

Eleanor's transplant operation was conducted without complication by Francis Downey, MD, a heart and lung transplant surgeon for more than eight years. Ten days later, Eleanor was resting comfortably at home for the first time in months without a portable oxygen tank at her side.

Today, thanks to a new lung and the wonders of medical technology, Eleanor has returned to a full and active lifestyle that includes all the activities she enjoyed before her illness-even rollerblading! She is able to work, travel and keep up with her nine grandchildren. "I count my blessings every day," says Eleanor. "As a result of my illness and second chance at life, I am so much more aware of things I used to take for granted. I am living life to the fullest and realizing it."