The force is with woman who gets life-saving lung transplant


Credit: Amanda Griswold/UCLA
Following a lung transplant, Kathlyn Chassey makes a triumphant exit from the Reagan UCLA Medical Center, accompanied by Darth Vader and storm troopers from "Star Wars."
A 24-year-old cystic fibrosis patient is starting the new year with new hope thanks to help from the U.S. Air Force, the actor who played Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” movies and a UCLA surgeon who said yes to a high-risk case.

Kathlyn Chassey of San Antonio, Texas, was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease characterized by the build-up in the lungs of thick, sticky mucus that traps infection-causing bacteria. While there is no cure, lung transplantation can help alleviate many of the symptoms.

Chassey’s father, Chris, is a chief master sergeant in the United States Air Force. Last November, when her breathing problems worsened, she was hospitalized at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. By the end of the month, her condition became critical, and she was placed on life support to take over her breathing function.

The only chance of saving her life, doctors warned, was a lung transplant.

An urgent search began to find a transplant center that would take her case. But one center after another turned her down, deeming the surgery too risky. Continue reading