PRYOR — About 100 of Trina Shepperd's relatives will share a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, but Shepperd alone will show up with a brand new set of lungs.
The 41-year-old Pryor woman will join her family fresh from a Sept. 14 double-lung transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Shepperd left the hospital just 10 days after the surgery, and such force of will is typical for her, those who know her said.
As a teenager she willed herself back onto the softball diamond after spending six months in the hospital for treatment of her cystic fibrosis.
With a 65 mph pitch, she led Pryor High School's fast-pitch team to a 25-3 record and the 1987 girls' state championship.
“She has a very positive attitude,” said Sherry Seitz, Barnes Jewish Hospital respiratory specialist. “She's a fighter, very determined and she works really hard.”
For a successful recovery after the surgery, patients need to be in the best physical condition possible, Seitz said. Shepperd worked hard to get in shape and walk the required 30 minutes on a treadmill, Seitz said.
A month after her six-hour surgery, Shepperd climbed more than 100 steps to visit the St. Louis Gateway Arch Museum.
“It's more than I could ever imagine,” Shepperd said of her newfound activity level.
Shepperd does pulmonary rehab five days a week and has increased her walking time on the treadmill to 45 minutes. Next week, she will undergo medical procedures to measure the success of the transplant.
“Most (cystic fibrosis) patients will have a lung transplant in their 20s,” Shepperd said. “I was fortunate that I went 41 years before I needed one.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that typically leads to premature death. The disease affects the lung and digestive systems of about 30,000 Americans, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website. A defective gene causes the body to produce a mucus that clogs the lungs and causes infections. The mucus also obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb nutrients from food.
My parents ... never acted like anything was an impossibility.”