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Transplant Throwback: Carol Cerny

Carol Cerny, leaning against a tree trunk on a sunny day

Name: Carol Cerny 

Age: 79 

Home: Grand Blanc 

Transplant: Lungs 

Why did you need a transplant and when did it happen? 

I was a smoker for several years which destroyed my lungs. When I was transplanted on August 21, 2005, I had 17% lung function left. I was on oxygen 24/7 for seven years before I received the call. 

That was more than 17 years ago. How are you doing? 

I have been extremely fortunate to have excellent doctors at the University of Michigan who have monitored me very closely with regular checkups. My most recent lung capacity test was 97.8%! I’ve had two upsets since my transplant, one was cancer of my voice box which was successfully treated. I also developed Type 2 diabetes which is controlled nicely with medications. 

There isn’t anything that I’m unable to do. 

What are the three to five most important events or experiences you’ve been able to enjoy because a donor saved your life? 

I was especially thankful to be with our daughter when she was diagnosed and successfully treated for breast cancer in 2009–2010. I can’t conceive of not being with Jen during that time. 

It has been a real honor for both my husband Tom and me to mentor others with lung and other health issues, including our formal roles as peer mentors for University of Michigan lung transplant patients and their families, and to help with many Gift of Life events over the years, especially the donor family events. 

Attending the Transplant Games of America six times has been a special treat, as was winning gold medals in golf and mixed doubles bowling with a special lung transplant friend. 

Being able to stay fully engaged in our faith and several community service organizations, and being there for family and friends has blessed me with a richly rewarding life. Keep on keeping on! 

If you could talk to your donor or your donor’s family today, what would you say to them? 

Each day I thank God, my donor and my donor family (who has remained anonymous) for giving me the gift of life. To my donor, I try to honor you by living my life to the fullest in service to others. To my donor’s family, I hope you received the many letters we sent through Gift of Life and the medal I received in 2007 when we completed our first of six Crim Festival of Races 10-mile race walks. Your generosity, at what must have been the most difficult moment in your life, is truly appreciated. Thank you! 

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