Patty Furey, of Holbrook, Massachusetts was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs, pancreas and other organs.
When she was first diagnosed with the disease at age 3, her parents were told that she’d probably live to be 13-years-old. Due to her determination and advances in the treatment of CF, she was able to go on to college, celebrate her 30th birthday and make the most of living with this disease, albeit with a lung function of about 35 percent.
“This time last year, I was on life support fighting for my life,” she said.
As CF patients get older, their lung function steadily declines due to the numerous infections that the lungs suffer over the years.
Starting in the fall of 2015, Furey had to go on supplemental oxygen on a full-time basis.
Last September, the disease had progressed to where she only had about 24 percent lung function. She was really struggling and was admitted to Brigham & Women’s Hospital.
Walking just 10 feet was a major effort. She had been working toward getting on the lung transplant list, but was not quite there. Her condition worsened even more while in the hospital and was moved to the ICU, where she was put under sedation while they made numerous attempts to get her lungs to function enough to survive.
“They told my loved ones I was heart beats away from death and to say their goodbyes I had my last rites read,” Furey said.
On October 27 of last year, Patty and the love of her love, Christian Teja, were told that nothing more could be done and that she would probably pass in the next 24 to 48 hours.
“Breathing is a natural human need and I didn’t have that,” Furey said.
Furey was presented with a final radical option, which was to attempt to put her on an extreme life support system called ECMO. Her lung function stabilized and she was finally able to be listed for transplant. Five days later, a match was found and early on the morning of November 6, she received a successful double lung transplant.
“It’s the most beautiful experience I could ever imagine. This is the first time I’ve gotten emotional about it in a while,” said a teary-eyed Furey.
She then began the recovery process. After a stint at Spaulding Rehab, she began outpatient pulmonary rehab closer to home. By the time she completed that in May, she was able to run a one minute interval on a treadmill after doing a sustained walk.
Throughout the summer, she took her running to the track and steadily kept adding time and distance to her runs. All of this, she said, is possibly from the most precious gift she will ever receive from a person she will never meet.
“I had an instant best friend all the time who is my number one cheerleader and just my number one fan,” Furey said, referring to her new lungs.
This Saturday, days away from the one-year anniversary of her transplant, she will he running her first ever 5K. She and her boyfriend have a team of friends running together as a team named “Unleash the Furey.”
The race is in Plymouth and it starts at 10 a.m. at Nelson Memorial Park.