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NIH Record

NIDR Fellow Lancaster Gets Double-Lung Transplant

By Rich McManus

After a long wait, NIDR oral medicine fellow Dr. Henry Lancaster received a double-lung transplant as therapy for cystic fibrosis on Feb. 9 at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans. As the Record went to press, he was doing well in the postoperative period and improving daily, according to his wife Joanne, an NICHD immunologist.

Dr. Joanne Lancaster, an NICHD immunologist, and husband Dr. Henry Lancaster of NIDR, last fall

The 5 ½-hour operation ended months of emotional highs and lows for the Lancasters, who temporarily relocated to New Orleans last fall to be near the transplant center at Ochsner. The daily anxieties of anticipation took their toll, reported Randy Schools, general manager of R&W, which helped raise funds for the Lancasters. Especially around Christmas, the couple expected donor organs to become available, he said.

An Irish dance festival held last October under R&W's sponsorship raised more than $8,000 for Henry and Joanne, who had appealed to the NIH community for help (see Sept. 23, 1997 Record) when they discovered that their medical insurance would not fill all of their financial needs. The money has been crucial to their survival, says Joanne, who sent thanks to all NIH'ers via email to the Record.

"If we had not had R&W help for fundraising, as well as all the other fundraising we have had, we could not be here," she wrote Feb. 10. "We want to thank everyone very much."

If all goes smoothly, she reported, Henry will stay in New Orleans for 100 days so that physicians can determine the exact doses of immunosuppressive drugs to give him, and to pass the critical period when he is most at risk of acute rejection and infection.

"Henry's ICU nurse told me he is such a pleasant and patient patient, very laid back and tolerant of all the pain," said Joanne. "That sounds like Henry." She says she is constantly reassuring her husband that the time is near when "he will be able to walk without having to gulp for breath, and that he will not have to do all his pulmonary treatments anymore. These pleasant thoughts are helping keep his spirits up and keep him strong."

The donor of the lungs transplanted to Henry also contributed his heart to another patient, said Joanne.

"I am confident God will protect (Henry), and so is he," she said.

Schools emphasized the benefits of the contributions of money and leave by many hundreds of NIH'ers to the Lancasters. Of the $8,619 raised by R&W for their needs, almost $3,000 had been spent by mid-February for expenses associated with their relocation, including bringing family members to New Orleans for brief stays. The Lancasters intend to return any unused funds to an account for patients awaiting life-saving organ transplant.


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