Patient Receives Lung Transplant from Living Donors

April 25, 2013

Kayla Gilbert

At just 2 months old, Kayla Gilbert was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF). The illness severely damaged her lungs, and she received a double-lung transplant in 2008. Sadly, her new lungs went into rejection, and she found herself once again awaiting a double-lung transplant.

When doctors first discovered her original donor lungs were rejecting, then didn’t expect Kayla to pull through. However, she and her parents refused to accept that. After hearing about great strides being made at Duke University Medical Center (DUMC), Kayla, 25, and her mother moved from Rhode Island to North Carolina to seek treatment.

With Kayla’s steadfast determination and DUMC’s willingness to consider this unique case, she was officially listed for a second double-lung transplant.

With more than 117,000 Americans on the transplant waiting list, the thought of not finding a match can be discouraging, but Kayla’s donors were already found.

Remarkably, both her father’s adopted cousin, Margaret Poirier, and Poirier’s boyfriend, Anthony (Tony) Fargnoli, were perfect matches and each donated a lobe of their lungs to Kayla on Jan. 23!

The first living lung donation occurred in 1990, and not all transplant centers perform them. DUMC had not performed a living donation for lungs in nine years.

Living lung donation requires two donors—one person gives one lobe or portion of their left lung, and the other person gives a lobe of their right lung. The two lobes are transplanted into a single recipient.

“It’s amazing that Kayla’s cousin and friend were willing to be tested,” said Claire Prince, NFT fundraising consultant. “And it’s even more amazing that they were both donor matches! At NFT, we want to help Kayla and her supporters raise the necessary funds to make sure she can afford the medical care she needs, not constantly worry about the bills.”

Although Kayla is at home and doing well, she has experienced setbacks and complications—including coding for three minutes before leaving DUMC. She currently takes 35-40 pills and is getting stronger every day.