© Stephen Wentzell
Lillian Caldwell was scheduled to leave for Toronto January 27 for assessment for a lung transplant. She suffers for COPD.
Inglisville resident off to Toronto for transplant assessment
By Stephen Wentzell
For The Spectator
A woman fighting for each and every breath has finally found a chance to restore her life. Lillian Caldwell was to leave her Inglisville home on January 27 to travel to Toronto for tests to determine whether or not she qualifies for a lung transplant.
Caldwell was diagnosed in 2010 with stage three COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The Lung Association says that COPD slowly damages your airways, making them swollen and partly blocking them by mucus. Because of this, it becomes difficult to move air in and out of your lungs.
Caldwell said in an April 2013 interview that she felt like getting her transplant was impossible. Her spirits were down, understandably, as her quality of life has been very limited. She feels breathless just walking from room to room. Making a cup of tea and getting dressed have become difficult and daunting. Constantly on an oxygen tank, Caldwell is too afraid to leave her home in fear of catching viruses.
Already this year, she has developed a stomach infection that has taken her one step forward into two steps back. VONs' have been helping her with her everyday routine in order to keep her life as comfortable as possible.
Now Caldwell is packing her bags because the miracle she thought would never come has arrived after all. With help from donations made to the Valley Credit Union and the funding from the Lawrencetown Lion's Club, Caldwell will be taking off to Toronto to see if she can get the transplant she needs to renew her life again.
She has already defied the odds by surviving this long. When she was originally diagnosed, her life expectancy was only until December 2012. She went to Toronto once before to have assessments for her transplant. The five days of tests were difficult. Caldwell faced walking and breathing tests, but also tests where blood oxygen was taken from the main artery in her wrist, dye was placed in her lungs, and her heart was sped up. However, because she could never raise the money (approximately $40,000) to move out to Toronto and be put on a waiting list for a transplant, she needs to have these assessments again.
Could Take A Year
She has already been warned by her doctor that a lung transplant could take upwards of one year. She hopes that she will qualify for her transplant and she's more than willing to wait it out if it means it can restore her life.
Caldwell worked at the Bridgetown police department for years cleaning the station. Being active was a huge part of her life. Even at 4 ft 8", she still walked faster than everyone, often doing things in a hurry.
RCMP Constable Lisa Miner spoke of Caldwell last spring, saying “She’s a hard worker. She always has a positive spirit and attitude. Despite her illness, she continued to work circles around everyone.”
January 27 couldn't come faster for Lillian. She's more than ready to get healthy again, and experience all the things she's had to miss out on due to her COPD.
Caldwell wants people to sign their donor card. “One donor card can help up to 50 people,” she says.
The message she wanted to send out before her trip was simply a thank you. "I want to thank everyone," she said. "To anyone who has helped in any way, great and small, it all adds up and it can really help a person. And to those who have really helped me a lot, thank you with all my heart, you know who you are.”
Stephen Wentzell is a student at Bridgetown Regional High School and writes for The Spectator periodically. He lives in Lawrencetown.