Flynn still waiting for life-giving lungs

Margaret Flynn is still waiting for a lung transplant.

Now, the Ladysmith resident has been on the current waiting list longer than anyone else.

“It’s a rare match,” said Flynn, who has O negative blood as well as certain anti bodies in the blood, making her difficult to match to a donor.

“It’s a hurry up and wait thing,” said Flynn, who carries a pager with her should a lung, or two, become available. She also is hooked up to oxygen, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Flynn has a genetic disorder called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. The condition causes the liver to stop releasing a protein that protects the lungs from damage. Eventually, the lungs lose their elasticity and can’t expand and contract easily, making breathing harder.

Flynn was diagnosed three years ago, after initially being told she had asthma.

Finally, she had a different diagnosis, and had to go through the arduous process of getting on the transplant list.

“They make you go through an awful lot of tests,” Flynn said.

Should Flynn get her lungs, she will have to go through a difficult, expensive and long recovery period in Vancouver so she can be close to the hospital.

“Financially, it’s pretty tough on us,” Flynn said.

She and her family have received a lot of help from the community. Home Hardware, for example, has done popcorn drives, and other businesses have made donations.

A fundraiser for Flynn’s recovery, when it happens, is being held at her in-law’s house June 27 and 28. They are having a garage sale at 289 Fourth Avenue Extension from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days.

There is also a special bank account for donations at the CIBC in Ladysmith.

In the meantime, Flynn maintains a positive attitude.

“You have to have a good outlook,” she said. “You can’t let something beat you.”

Of course, there are bad days too.

Flynn has to avoid catching infections.

“That means living in a bubble sometimes,” she said. “That swine flu, it’s scary. Those kind of things put you really on edge.”

Copyright 2009 Ladysmith Chronicle