Westby woman receives life-saving lung transplant

LA CROSSE TRIBUNE | Emily Pyrek

Told by her doctors she likely wouldn't live past the coming summer, Sue Brye regarded each experience as potentially her last. Diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in January 2015, the Westby resident was chronically short of breath, unable to walk from her bedroom to the bathroom with less than 10 liters of oxygen.

"It was profound. I couldn't finish reading a whole book to my granddaughter," recalled Brye, 63, tearing up. "I knew this would be terminal."

Due to the rapid progression of her disease, Brye was considered an unlikely candidate for an organ donation, but on April 5, after just 12 days on the waiting list, Brye received the lung transplant that gave her a second chance at life. In a twist of fate, April is National Donate Life Month.

"That was unbelievable," said Brye, who was scheduled only for a consultation that day but grew so ill she was admitted early to UW Health in Madison. "So much happened in a short time."

Required to be within 30 minutes of the hospital for monitoring and infusions during her recovery, Byre and husband Bruce have been residing at the Restoring Hope Transplant House in Middleton, Wis., a nonprofit "home away from home" for UW Health transplant patients. A homey, supportive and economical alternative to an extended hotel stay, Restoring Hope houses some of the more than 500 organ or bone marrow transplant recipients served at UW hospital each year, the fourth highest of any hospital nationwide. Continue reading
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