Lisa Perry Carpenter quietly celebrated her 25th birthday Thursday, hooked up to the oxygen tank that has become an appendage during the past three years.
On Monday, she will travel to Toronto, Canada, to await a surgery she hopes will assure her many more birthdays.Carpenter's mother, Judy Perry, will go with her for the extensive evaluation process and the possibly long wait that will precede a double lung transplant.
Her husband, Jay Carpenter, will stay in Salt Lake and work to maintain the insurance that will pay for the $125,000 surgery.
They are trusting God for the money they will need to live in Canada until the lung transplant is possible. The evaluation can take weeks. Waiting for a good match on donor organs may take as long as a year, and they will have to stay in Canada for three months after the surgery.
Carpenter has cystic fibrosis, a congenital condition characterized by fibrosis and malfunctioning of the pancreas, as well as continuous bouts of respiratory infection. Her lungs have deteriorated so badly in the past few years that she requires respiratory therapy two or three times a day.
Her activities, she said, are "very, very limited." Without the transplant, the young Utahn will die.
She applied to four hospital transplant programs at the University of Utah and in Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Toronto. The first two turned her down. Pittsburgh accepted her but said there'd be a delay. Toronto invited her to come right away. Now she's rushing to get ready, and she describes herself as "hopeful and afraid."
"With a new set of lungs, I'll have a chance at life," she said. "It's a little like getting a new set of tires."
Friends are hosting a series of small fund-raisers they hope will help cover living expenses for Carpenter and Perry. A fund is being established at the Brighton Bank, where Perry works. Anyone interested in helping out can call Jackie, 969-5542.