Shreveport woman gets double lung transplant, breath of fresh ai - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Shreveport woman gets double lung transplant, breath of fresh air

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Kellie Henley at Baylor Univ. Medical Center awaiting her double lung transplant. Kellie Henley at Baylor Univ. Medical Center awaiting her double lung transplant.
Since having a double lung transplant, Kellie Henley  hasn't needed the daily breathing treatments. Since having a double lung transplant, Kellie Henley hasn't needed the daily breathing treatments.
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

Kellie Henley is finally back at home and breathing easier.

"It feels amazing. You never know how much you miss home until you're gone for months at a time," Henley says, just months after a double lung transplant.

"Organ donation is live changing, live saving."

Henley was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis shortly after birth, and that has meant a lifetime of breathing treatments, medications and hospital stays.

"My high school years, I spent my whole time in the hospital," says the Captain Shreve High School graduate.

Cystic Fibrosis can cause a lifetime of breathing problems, and in Henley's case, it left her with only one option - a double lung transplant.

But getting on the list to be an organ recipient was a complex process. "Too healthy." "Too sick." She had heard both comments over the past couple of years.

Until last Fall, Henley and her mother traveled to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

"It was supposed to be an evaluation to get on the transplant list, to see if I qualify," Henley said.

The evaluation, however, quickly turned into a nightmare.

"My oxygen level decreased and I had trouble breathing and was rushed to ICU," adds Henley. "I was given a week to live."

But within days, Henley's saving grace came flying into Dallas straight from Kansas. Her doctors had picked up Henley's new breath of fresh air.

Recalling those few days, "Their death in their family has caused my family to have me around a little longer," a very emotional Henley could no longer hold back the tears. "I want to know what that person was like. And I want them to know what I'm like."

Henley will be allowed to write the donor's family in about two more months. At that time, the donor family can decide whether they want to proceed further, perhaps even meeting her one day.

"I'm so grateful. I wouldn't be sitting here right now if I hadn't gotten lungs," she says.

One of Henley's grade school teachers has set up a fundraiser to help offset medical costs. Kim Tuminello, who is now the principal at Sun City Elementary in Bossier City, taught Henley at Forest Hill Elementary in south Shreveport.

"She's one of my babies. Once you're a teacher, they're always your babies," Tuminello says.

She says pack your appetite and eat Monday night at El Chico Mexican Food Restaurant on Bert Kouns Industrial Loop in south Shreveport and proceeds will help pay for Henley's mounting medical expenses. The fundraiser is from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

Henley's alma mater, Captain Shreve High School, is also helping out. The "Z" Club is donating part of their proceeds from a March 13 carnival on campus to help.

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