Woman’S Remarkable Triple Lung Transplant Recovery At Duke Health Inspires Hope

Taylor Stephenson, a 26-year-old patient with cystic fibrosis, has successfully undergone her third double-lung transplant at Duke University Hospital. Stephenson, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at nine months old, had her first transplant in 2015 at a pediatric center. After three-and-a-half years, she experienced rejection and received her second transplant in 2020. However, her body began rejecting those lungs as well, leading to the need for a third transplant. Stephenson sent letters to doctors across the country, as only three places offer this rare procedure. Fortunately, a team of doctors at Duke Health agreed to help her. On January 13, 2024, Stephenson became the 13th patient to undergo a third double-lung transplant at Duke University Hospital.

Dr. John Reynolds, one of Stephenson’s doctors, explained that she met the necessary criteria for the surgery. Her age and overall health made the procedure feasible, despite the challenges of multiple transplants. Reynolds mentioned that the accumulation of prior surgeries and medications can make subsequent transplants increasingly difficult. Stephenson’s recovery includes daily physical therapy exercises and monitoring her lung capacity at home. A little over a month after the operation, Stephenson has regained her independence, being able to walk, play with her dog, and take care of daily tasks. She expressed gratitude for the opportunity of a third transplant and praised the advancements in science and Duke University Hospital.

Stephenson had her first post-procedure scans on Valentine’s Day, which showed no signs of rejection. She considers it a positive sign, believing that “third time’s the charm.” Only a small number of patients have undergone three double-lung transplants, with most surgeries taking place at Duke Health. Stephenson’s successful recovery highlights the potential of medical advancements and offers hope to others facing similar challenges.

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