We’ve had the pleasure of getting to know truly amazing families since we opened our doors in 2014. Below are some of their stories of their transplant journey, the emotions they experienced and reflections on their time at Transplant House.
During a two-day surgery in May of 2022, Donna Plummer received her liver transplant. Of those days and the weeks of recovery in the ICU that followed, Donna admits she remembers very little. “I was just surviving,” she says.
““We sit out on the front porch and say hi to everybody. Talking to the other people at the meals and the stories you hear at Transplant House helps you with what you’re going through.” – Donna Plummer
Jennifer Alley had her intestinal transplant in July of 2004. In 2008 she gave birth to a son, Felton. “I was the first adult small bowel recipient to give birth,” Jennifer says.
“Daniel would come back to the hospital and say ‘I got to talk to this person’s husband and their wife is going through what you are right now. And it felt good to connect with them.’ It’s a major support network. It means so much to him that the other guests actually understood how he was feeling and what he was going through. You can talk with people here and they know exactly what it’s like, they’ve been there too. It’s like a breath of fresh air.” – Jennifer Alley
Six years ago, Noland Williams learned he would need a liver transplant. Within a year he was listed, but Noland would continue to wait for a liver for another five years.
“Being at Transplant House has been good for me. I made so many friends here.”
On the 27th of October 2017, Mike received a lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic and in early November Melissa arrived at Transplant House of Cleveland for the first time.
“Just knowing someone can feel with you – connect with you,” Melissa explains, “It really does feel like home. I mean, I cried when we went home. I cried because this was our home for two months. And it was secure, safe.”
As an oncology nurse at a small community hospital, Kathie Holmes is all too aware of how a person’s life can change in an instant, with a single diagnosis. She’s seen it many times. As the wife of a man whose lungs were destroyed by COVID-19, she’s also aware of the uncertainty severe illness brings, of the financial hardships, and the ongoing struggle to be heard. She’s lived it.
"It was just like I got a hug from that building. It was like that little apartment whispered to me, ‘It’s all gonna be okay. You’re safe now.’" —Kathie
On June 21, 2013, Doug received a lung transplant that saved his life. The otherwise healthy 42-year-old had been diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and spent over a year traveling for medical testing and appointments with his fiancé, Sue. It was shattering to them when, in late 2020, Doug was told he would need a second lung transplant.
"Transplant House was a home away from home. Everyone I’ve talked to, before arriving and while here, have been so welcoming and kind!" —Susan
Jack and Barb Goltz are long-term guests at Transplant House. Their story touches upon so many themes we see time and again with those on the transplant journey: waiting, advocating for oneself, multiple procedures, a longer road to recovery and having to uproot one’s life quickly to travel away from home.
"I didn’t expect to stay as long as I’ve been here, but I’ve had a speed bumps to my recovery. I’d love to be home, but I’m confident this is the best place to be until it’s safe to leave. Thank you to both the Cleveland Clinic and Transplant House for all you do to make it home and family.” —Jack
Erika Marx believes in the connectedness of all of us. It’s something she experienced first-hand when constant pain and exhaustion led her down a path to a diagnosis of a rare medical condition and the decision to give the gift of life to someone she’d never met, while healing herself.
“I was blown away. This place is a diamond in the rough. The community is amazing.” —Erika
Doug is a pastor in the small town of Culloden, West Virginia. A year ago, a parishioner approached him, seeking advice: A friend was in need of a partial liver transplant and she had the right blood type to help. However, she had two small children and risked losing her job to take time off for the procedure.
“Being able to experience fellowship and share with other residents in the midst of similar experiences was a major part of my journey towards healing.” —Doug
Lizz and Jerry spent months at Transplant House waiting for “the call” and in the meantime made lifelong friendships.
“Transplant House of Cleveland gave us a sense of community. When you’re living in a city you don’t know, in order to receive medical care, getting to talk with other caregivers and patients who have gone before you is invaluable.” —Jerry, organ recipient
A young woman with cycstic fibrosis breathes easily now, thanks to a double-lung transplant.
“If I were going through it again, I would evaluate a transplant program based upon housing. We know how important it is. A hotel is not sufficient.” —Kati, organ recipient