Anesthesiology resident grateful for new lungs

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Dr. Kevin Bauereis considers himself fortunate to be alive.

The 30-year-old anesthesiology resident with cystic fibrosis underwent a double-lung transplant at Lexington’s University of Kentucky Medical Center in May and appears to be on his way to a full recovery.

However, the night before the lungs became available Bauereis told The Kentucky Enquirer (http://cin.ci/17zSXny) he believed he was nearing the end of his life.

In July 2012, Bauereis took a leave of absence from the University of Kentucky Medical Center and awaited the transplant that, at the time, seemed just a few weeks away. But weeks turned into months, and Bauereis grew weaker with each passing day.

He and his wife, Kara, a nurse, turned to their Christian faith for strength as they waited 10 months for a set of donor lungs.

Bauereis said he was “near the end” when the phone rang on the morning of May 7.

“I was couch-ridden, and the night before my doctor’s appointment we packed our bags because we knew I would be admitted and probably end up in the intensive care unit,” Bauereis said. “It was that bad. So I lay down on the couch and told God, ‘This is it; it’s all in your hands.’”

The next morning, the transplant coordinator called to say they had a set of lungs for him.

“I went from preparing for the worst to getting a transplant, which was just a miracle,” Bauereis said.

Despite some setbacks during the operation, Bauereis spent just a week in the intensive care unit and another week in a regular hospital room before getting the green light to recover at home.

Bauereis has a positive attitude, but he is realistic about his long-term prognosis. After one year, the survival rate for lung transplant patients is 90 percent, but that number drops to 50 percent after five years, he said.

“We’ve heard of people living 20-plus years after a transplant, while others have a transplant and it doesn’t really work, but I show no signs of rejection, so that’s a good sign,” he said. “I’m just living every day to the fullest and taking advantage of the gifts I’ve been given.”

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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