Celebrating gifts: Recipients, donor families honor organ sacrifices

Knoxville News Sentinal | Mike Blackerby

Knoxville resident Betsy Harrell, left, a donor parent, and Jim Kornegay, right, a transplant recipient, at the annual Tennessee Donor Services’ Celebration for Life — Thanks for Giving celebration. Kornegay received a organ donation from Harrell’s daughter who died in a car accident. Over 200 donor families and transplant recipients closed the ceremonies with a balloon release Sunday, November 15, 2015. J. Miles Cary/Special to the News Sentinel J. MILES CARY

Something was terribly wrong with Ashley Carpenter.

“Four years ago I couldn’t make it up a flight of stairs, couldn’t ride a bike, or lift her (daughter Saylor) at 2,” the Knoxville woman said. “I had no lung capacity, and thought I had the flu.”

The diagnosis was instead dire.

“The doctor said we are dealing with something really serious. Four years ago they gave me one year to live,” she said.

Carpenter, now 34, was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma and interstitial lung disease.

“I had never smoked, never done anything to damage my lungs,” said Carpenter.

After a year of chemotherapy proved ineffective, doctors told Carpenter that her only hope was a double-lung transplant. Continue reading