Remembering John Ransom (1939-2006)

Two weeks ago, John and Lorelei’s granddaughter, Kaylee, was brushing her teeth, when out of the blue she turned and said to her grandmother, “Mommy was telling me how when Grandpa was very sick and he was just skin and bone, he talked to a group at church (Thanksgiving Service). He told them, ‘My body is very sick, but I am fine,'” Then, Kaylee added, “Know why he said that–because he is in Heaven.”

Lorelei emailed, “I fought back the tears.  As we approach yet another anniversary of God calling John home, it was such a blessing to know that his legacy of faith was being shared!!!”

John Ransom was a close friend of mine. He died of pancreatic cancer six years ago, February 25, 2006. The other day I was thinking I wish I could visit with him about something. In remembrance of John and his life, I shared the following comments at John’s memorial service.

I first met John at the bus station in Joplin, Missouri, August, 1957. I had ridden a bus from Indiana to Joplin to come to Ozark Bible College. John came with someone else to pick me up and take me to the college. We were both beginning our freshman year.

In some ways we were quite different. He was from the city; I was from rural Indiana. We had to learn each other language.  He said, “Soda.” And I said, “Pop.” He found it hilarious that I called a pot-luck dinner, a “pitch-in.” But we managed to communicate. He helped me learn some of the finer points of etiquette. John was an excellent musician with a broad appreciation of all kinds of music. My expertise in music is limited to playing classical music on the radio and CD player.

 

We had a lot in common too. We both were serious students. We were interested in learning the Bible and serving the Lord by preaching and teaching His Word. Continue reading

Seventh Anniversary of My Double Lung Transplant

June 15, 2011 was my seventh year anniversary of my double lung transplant received at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. I credit my generally good health to the following:

 

  1. My relationship with God and his healing and sustaining hand.
  2. My wife, family, and friends for their prayers and support.
  3. Excellent medical care from those at Barnes Jewish and in Joplin.
  4. Faithfulness in taking my prescribed medications and in regular exercise in pulmonary rehab.
  5. Keeping active in writing and teaching opportunities and in family and church activities.

 

For those considering having a transplant I can testify my transplant has been a great blessing to me. It is a very serious and important decision. I resisted the idea at first but I am glad I decided to receive a transplant. I am grateful for these extra seven years especially with my family and additional opportunities to serve others.

 

I had Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. This disease progressively scars the lungs rendering the person unable to breathe. At present there is no known cause and no cure. Annually 40,000 die of this disease—the same number as die of breast cancer. I am so blessed to have received a transplant and no longer have the disease.

 

September 18-25, 2011 was National Pulmonary Awareness Week. The Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis provides education and promotes research on this disease. The Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 2505 and S. 1350) has been introduced in congress to increase funding for a national patient registry and for additional education and research on this deadly disease. If this bill would be enacted it would accelerate efforts in finding an effective treatment for pulmonary fibrosis.

A Tribute to Joplin’s St. John’s Hospital Pulmonary Rehabilitation

The Joplin tornado of May 22, 2011 brought to an end my regular trips to pulmonary rehab on the ninth floor of Joplin’s St John’s Hospital. I began attending this pulmonary rehab on August 12, 2000 and have continued three times a week through May 21, 2011, the day before the destructive tornado. I did have a break of six months while I was in St. Louis attending rehab at Barnes Jewish Hospital where I had a double lung transplant on June 15, 2004.

 

I had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a deadly disease, which has no known cause and no known cure. A lung transplant is the only way to survive this disease. Exercising at St. John’s pulmonary rehab contributed greatly to my surviving long enough to receive a lung transplant. Since returning home in October, 2004, I have faithfully continued my exercise program at St. John’s. This program has been a major player in enabling me to maintain relative good health in these seven years since my transplant.

 

I want to express my appreciation to the respiratory therapists, Christine Barnes, director, and her assistant, Tina Williams, and other therapists. They have conducted themselves in a professional yet personal manner. They are competent, friendly, and encouraging. Over the last almost eleven years I have seen many people greatly improved by participating in pulmonary rehab.

 

St. John’s Pulmonary Rehab has made a significant contribution to my life and I am grateful. I do not know what the future holds for St. John’s. I did not want to lose the well-being I have gained so I wanted to continue in an exercise program. On June 6, 2011, I will begin physical therapy for my pulmonary health at McCune Brooks Hospital in Carthage, Missouri. After one week I was dismissed from the program because McCune Brooks does not provide maintenance. As of June 23, 2011 I am going to pulmonary rehab at Via Christi Health in Pittsburg, Kansas.

Celebration of Life

A Celebration of Life service was held April 20, 2010, at St. Johns Hospital in Joplin, Missouri to honor donor families, recipients and those waiting for the gift of life. Midwest Transplant Network and Heartland Lions Eye Banks sponsored the event. To inform the community about the importance of organ and tissue donation a front page article in the Joplin Globe (April 18, 2010) told the story of Lynn Gardner, double lung recipient. The article can be found at the following link:

http://www.joplinglobe.com/local/x1687715437/Lung-transplant-gives-local-man-new-lease-on-life. You can also Google Joplin Globe and go to Local News.

Representing organ and tissue recipients, Lynn Gardner gave these comments to those present for the April 20th service.

Does an organ donation make a difference? I can say it certainly has in my life. In July 2000 at the National Jewish Research Center in Denver I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, a terminal lung disease. Idiopathic means the cause is unknown. Pulmonary relates to the lungs. Fibrosis means scarring. At that point my life expectancy was only three years. On June 15, 2004, I received a double lung transplant at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Today I am doing well and plan to return to Barnes in June for my six-year check-up.

Between 130,000 to 200,000 Americans suffer from Pulmonary Fibrosis which is a scarring of the lungs leaving the victim unable to breathe. Each year at least 40,000 die of this disease, the same number as die of breast cancer. The Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis said of those proven by biopsy to have the disease only .8 of one percent receive a lung transplant and survive the disease. We do not know the cause of the disease and no cure has been found apart from a transplant. I stand here tonight before you as one greatly blessed to have received new lungs.

If I had not received my lung transplant, these things would be true:

  • I’m sure I would have died in 2004 and my obituary written and my funeral a matter of history.
  • My marriage with Barbara would have ended at 43 years. I would not have been alive to help my wife deal with her breast cancer in 2005. We would not be anticipating our 50th wedding anniversary in February, 2011.
  • My grandchildren would have been only seven and three years old and I would have missed out on all the great times we have had together in the last six years, especially our Bible club.
  • My ministry through teaching and writing would have ended, without these last six years of teaching in Sunday school, care groups, and in our Bible club, various opportunities for speaking, and writing articles and books. Continue reading

I Am Thankful for My Double Lung Transplant

In July 2000 at University Hospital in Denver I had a lung biopsy. Immediately after the surgery the surgeon said my wife, Barbara, “Have you considered a lung transplant?” We had not given one thought to a transplant.

I began having a non-productive cough in 1995. In the fall of 1999 I was checked out for shortness of breath with asthma, apnea and other things ruled out. My local pulmonologist suspected idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis which a CT scan at Barnes Hospital (St. Louis) confirmed. However, my doctor wasn’t sure what treatment to pursue.

I went to National Jewish Research Center, a top respiratory hospital in Denver. They agreed with the diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Idiopathic means the cause is unknown. Pulmonary refers to the lungs. Fibrosis means scarring. IPF, as it is called, is a progressive scarring and deterioration of the lungs leaving the victim unable to breathe. My doctor said, “You don’t have cancer, but you have something just as bad. You have a life expectancy of about three years.”

More than 128,000 Americans suffer from this disease with about 48,000 diagnosed annually. Each year 40,000 die of IPF, the same number as die of breast cancer. Despite these facts, little is known about IPF. It has no known cause or means of prevention or FDA-approved treatment—outside of a lung transplant. Continue reading

National Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Week

Screen shot 2009-09-27 at 1.34.48 AMI want to call attention to this week because I had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a generally fatal disease. June 15, 2004 I received a double lung transplant that saved my life.

“Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a lung disorder characterized by a progressive scarring known as fibrosis — and deterioration of the lungs, which slowly robs its victims of their ability to breathe. Approximately 128,000 Americans suffer from PF, and there is currently no known cause or cure. An estimated 48,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. PF is difficult to diagnose and an estimated two-thirds of patients die within five years of diagnosis.  Sometimes PF can be linked to a particular cause, such as certain environmental exposures, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, residual infection, or autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis. However, in many instances, no known cause can be established. When this is the case, it is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).”

September 14-21 is designated as National Pulmonary Fibrosis Week by the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis, a national advocacy seeking to accelerate research efforts to find a cure for pulmonary fibrosis.  They are promoting the passage of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act (PFREA H. R. 1079) that would authorize $16 million in new federal funding to create the first national patient registry for PF, and provide much needed support for research into the deadly lung disease.

“The urgency of the campaign is that the disparity of federal investment in PF compared to other diseases that realize far fewer deaths and have longer life expectancies, means a far longer wait for a possible cure.  The wait for funding is costing 40,000 lives each year, the same number of lives lost to breast cancer,” said CPF Chief Executive Officer.

Any efforts to encourage members on Capitol Hill to pass this legislation would be appreciated.  For more information see http://www.coalitionforpf.org/ or call 888-222-8541.