On Valentine's Day, 1996, Leslie Hotson, then 13, was in the hospital for a tune up. She had been on the waiting list for a transplant for six months. At 6 A.M. she got a call informing her that the doctors might have a new pair of lungs for her and they were going to check them out. She went through her normal morning routine (treatments, meds and school at the hospital). At 12:30 she was told the lungs were good and that she needed to be ready to go in for surgery at 1 P.M.! Even still, Leslie claims she was not nervous, just excited. During her five-hour surgery, her mom and dad, Tib and John Hotson, waited anxiously. While the surgery went well, it wasn't until the next day that Tib and John could talk to their daughter. Tib remembers Leslie's first "words" post-op. Leslie handed her mom a piece of paper that had "my kids" scrawled on it. Tib tried in vain to decode the message and turned to the nurses for help. The nurse pointed to the T.V. and told her that Leslie wanted to watch "All My Children." Tib knew that was a good sign!
Not all things returned to normal as quickly as her favorite soaps schedule. In fact, the road to good health was long and difficult. Leslie remembers vividly how excessively thirsty she felt and would ask to brush her teeth just so she could suck the extra water from the brush. In time she was allowed food and drink, but her post-op meds frequently made her feel nauseous. This, along with the soreness from surgery, prevented her from wanting to move around much. She also hated wearing the required mask (necessary because of her immune suppression to prevent organ rejection) because she felt like she couldn't breathe. Eventually, the nurses wheeled her outside where she could take her mask off and there she began to try to walk again. Even after she was on her feet again, there were long months of recovery and strength-building exercises, doctors appointments and physical therapy.
Looking back, Leslie wishes she had pushed herself more post-op. That would be the only
advice she would offer to anyone preparing to go through the procedure. She says,
"The sooner you get yourself up and moving, the sooner you get your strength
back." Almost two years later, Leslie has taken up diving and guitar in her new-found
free time, and she described a thrilling river rafting trip her family took last summer.
She now attends school full time and says to anyone contemplating the transplant,
"Your life will be more fun!" With her bright, warm eyes, quick smile, positive
attitude and enthusiasm for life, Leslie makes it all seem so easy!
Return to Fall 1997 Index Page