Transplant Patient Stories
Lung transplant success story: Michael McMillian
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 19, 2006) − Just waiting. That's how 47-year-old Michael McMillian describes more than a year spent waiting for his lung transplant.
In 2000 McMillian was diagnosed with black lung, a disease developed from inhaling coal dust. The effects of the disease were devastating.
"I couldn't do anything," McMillian said. "I was on oxygen. I could only walk about 20 feet."
McMillian, of Wallins Creek, learned he needed a lung transplant in February 2002. He was referred to the University of Kentucky Transplant Center and underwent a single lung transplant in May 2003. He was already in the hospital that night and on a ventilator, when the call came at 2 a.m. A lung was available.
"Recovery was a slow process," McMillian said. "I had to learn how to walk again, how to breathe. I had to get my muscles rebuilt and my lungs strong."
If he needed extra incentive to get well, McMillian had it. His daughter, Melissa, was getting married in August 2003. He wanted to walk her down the aisle, and he did.
Although McMillian doesn't know the donor family, he is grateful for their kindness during a difficult time. "I think about them a lot," McMillian says. "It's a bad thing to lose a son or daughter. It's a bad situation any way you look at it. But if it weren't for donors and their families, people like me wouldn't be walking around."
McMillian is doing a lot more than just walking around these days. Aside from being a husband and a father to three daughters, ages 26, 23, and 18, he volunteers, delivering boxes of food to the needy. He also helps other lung transplant patients.
"I was asked to talk to a patient who was scared and didn't know whether or not he wanted to go through with the transplant," McMillian said. "I told him to go through with it. It's well worth it."
What did McMillian learn as a result of his experience? "Never take life for granted," he said.
The University of Kentucky Transplant Center has been providing transplantation services since 1964. Its surgeons perform more than 135 transplants each year. The faculty and staff of the Transplant Center specialize in the transplantation of all major solid organs, including the heart, lung, kidney, kidney/pancreas and liver.
For more information, call the Transplant Center: