Down to the last breath: One man's final days

Journal-Sentinel | Mark Johnson


As he'd struggle for breath, hunched in a sofa chair, tethered to an oxygen tank, Domingo Rosario Hernandez Jr. would try to stifle his runaway cough.

He did not want to worry his wife, Irma, and their three daughters. But they could hear the panic in his wheezing, and they would run in from their rooms.

Are you OK? Are you OK?

He needed new lungs. At 35, Domingo could not leave their Milwaukee home for the grocery store without taking three oxygen tanks in the car.

"Domingo's lungs are in a very scarred state," said his doctor, Kenneth W. Presberg, medical director of lung transplantation at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. "He needs a lung transplant. We'd prefer to get it immediately."

It was April when the doctor said this.

Domingo understood the urgency — he could feel it in his chest.
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