Published: Aug. 3, 2010
Updated: Aug. 3, 2010
A single mom from North Carolina recently received an extremely rare triple transplant. She received a new heart, lungs and a liver and is enjoying her new lease on life.
Shereyse Joyner from Ahoskie, NC, is believed to be only the twelfth patient in the U.S. since 1988 to receive the triple organ transplant.
She was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and impending organ failure in 2006, and her health steadily declined.
"It started off with the lungs, where I was short of breath and I couldn't breath," Shereyse said. "I couldn't even make up the bed on my own. I was still trying to work everyday, and play sports with my children and all of that good stuff, but it was very hard."
When Shereyse came to Duke in January, she was passing out frequently and doctors say she was near death. She was transplanted in May and has been on the fast track to recovery ever since. Shereyse's doctors say her good attitude seems to be buoying her recovery.
"I told Shereyse that she's made transplant look easy, in the setting that she's gone through things that many of us would consider so difficult and so hard, with a smile, with a good attitude --'how hard can I keep working? What can I keep doing?' and really exceeded all of our expectations," said David Zaas, her pulmonologist.
Shereyse is now working out daily, and is keeping her weekly checkups. A home nurse also visits her apartment from time to time.
"I can just be mommy again and cook and clean and all of that and not have to depend on my children as much as I used to," Shereyse said. "I had to depend on my children and on my parents, and now I can give them a break and go home and do for them!"
Zaas says survivals for triple transplant patients are actually similar to those seen in single organ transplant patients. Average survival post lung transplant at Duke is now close to eight years. This is the second heart, lungs and liver transplant performed at Duke.