At death's door, he turned away
Luck, love and generosity give lawyer a second chance at life
BY RYAN CORMIER • THE NEWS JOURNAl
WILMINGTON -- After months of slowly suffering from a rare and possibly fatal lung disease, Jeff Bove finally got the call he was waiting for in May, in the middle of the night
In desperate need of a double lung transplant, Bove had become a prisoner in his Chadds Ford, Pa., home, needing oxygen to walk only a few steps.
The Wilmington attorney had been on the United Network for Organ Sharing waiting list for a transplant, and the time had come.
He and his wife, Lloyd, drove up to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was prepped for surgery. He was laying on the operating room table, about to be put under, when came in at 3 a.m. The lungs were defective and could not be used.
It was disappointing, Bove says. But it was also something he'd been warned could happen, and he returned to his vigil.
Diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in early 2009, Bove was told that 45,000 people die from it each year, about the same number as breast cancer. The disease slowly thickens and scars lung tissue until it is impossible to breathe.
After the false alarm in May, Bove's phone didn't ring again for nearly two months. This time, the eight-hour operation was a success and there was an instant transformation, thanks to the lungs donated from a Ohio man who had died of a stroke
With minimal post-surgery pain, Bove was walking up and down stairs three days after surgery.
"It was a thrill being able to walk with no issues," says Bove, 58, who then underwent eight weeks of physical therapy to build his lung function. "I'm eternally grateful for this gift because I would be dead right now."