Second Nebraska Medicine lung transplant recipient doing well

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April 20th, 2016

Donna Jacobsen just three months removed from her single lung transplant procedure.

Donna Jacobsen just three months removed from her single lung transplant procedure. (Photo Courtesy Nebraska Medicine)

Doctors at Nebraska Medicine successfully completed their second lung transplant last week. The patient, Donna Jacobsen, completed her post-surgery rehabilitation and spoke to reporters at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Friday. KVNO’s Brandon McDermott files this report.


Donna Jacobsen was diagnosed two years ago with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a disease which causes lung tissue to thicken and scar over time.

She noticed her conditioning wasn’t what it used to be and her kids noticed too. After setting up a consultation with her doctor at the Nebraska Med Center, she was diagnosed with IPF. There is no cure as of yet for IPF, so Jacobsen had to wait it out for a transplant. Then the phone rang, she recalls her husband being by her side. They had a lung for the operation.

“It’s like okay,” Jacobsen said. “I looked at him and he looked at me and it was like ‘Oh my goodness, here we go.’”

Jacobsen’s single lung transplant procedure was January 26nd, two days after Nebraska Medicine’s first lung transplant procedure. Then it was a long three month rehab, where she healed up and slowly worked her new lung to proper conditioning.

“I don’t know what I expected. But, I was pleasantly surprised that the pain was very minimal. Everybody – I can’t think of one person that I wouldn’t take home with me. They were just unbelievable.”

Jacobsen, 63, is from Winside, Nebraska – about 125 miles northwest of Omaha. Doctors said she could’ve traveled elsewhere and had a possibility to get a lung quicker. But Jacobsen wanted to stay close to home and she is glad she did.

“The people down here are brilliant. Why would you go anyplace when Nebraska has a facility like the Med Center?”

Jacobsen said after breathing through a nose cannula for so long, she even had to re learn how to breathe on her own. Doctors say since Jacobsen was a nurse for more than 40 years, she understood the rigors of rehab.

“I went from being a registered nurse – to being forced to retire and on oxygen. So, I don’t even know what normal is. I’m going to have to figure that out.”

Above it all, Jacobsen said, she knows she wouldn’t be here today without the generosity of the donor family.

“From my experience, had the donor family not been generous, kind and thoughtful, I wouldn’t be here. I know I wouldn’t be here. “

Jacobsen says she looks forward to shifting her on being a grandmother and see the children she has only known in photographs the past few months.

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