organ donation

North Texan Beats Odds After Double Lung Transplant

A North Richland Hills man has defied the odds after a successful double lung transplant just as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting

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Riding out the pandemic as safely as possible is a top priority for double lung transplant recipient Kyle Killough, of North Richland Hills.

Killough takes nothing for granted considering 18 months ago, doctors told him he had weeks to live.

"My immediate thoughts were I wanted to do three things," said the 54-year-old.

"I wanted to say, 'I do to my fiancé.' I wanted to yell at my son's baseball game and I wanted to see my new grandson," said Killough.

Killough suffered from a condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a lung disease causing inflammation of the lung tissue.

It results from breathing in specific environmental allergens, like mold and can lead to irreversible lung scarring over time.

Killough and his doctors couldn't identify the allergen, and despite moving homes, making lifestyle changes and taking medication, the disease progressed to a point where Killough's only chance of survival was a double lung transplant.

Baylor Scott & White's Chief of Transplant Pulmonology Dr. Todd Grazia said when he first visited with Killough, Killough "had weeks, maybe months, to live, at best,"

Killough's dire condition qualified him to be placed at the top of the organ transplant list.

His wait on the list was just four days and after the surgery, he spent 45 nights in the hospital.

"It's a bit of a miracle that he got transplanted as quickly as he did and he's just done phenomenal," said Grazia.

He was discharged from the hospital around the same time the coronavirus was making headlines.

Grazia estimates, using his own data, that lung transplant recipients have a 10% to 15% chance of death following a COVID-19 infection.

"His number one comment to me was, 'Kyle, don't go get it," said Killough.

Transplant recipients often live with mask-wearing and safety top of mind, therefore, Killough said he felt prepared going into the pandemic.

Now, a year later, he is vaccinated against the virus but still takes every safety precaution possible to protect his second chance at life.

"It's totally a miracle I was able to get a transplant. It's also totally a miracle that a donor and his family thought enough to share that gift of life. Not a day goes by that I don't think about that," said Killough.

Killough will take anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life but the hope is that his new set of lungs will see through his golden years.

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