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Lung Transplant Patient Story: Meet Lauren Costa

The Challenge: Cystic Fibrosis

In 2008, Lauren Costa was a typical college student. Studying, working, and enjoying time with her friends. Until one day, while walking up a hill on her way to a homecoming football game, she became short of breath and had to stop and rest.

As a baby, Lauren was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic, life-long disease that causes mucus in the body to become thick and sticky. This mucus can seriously damage many organs in the body, especially the lungs and the pancreas. 

People with CF generally have difficulty breathing and a persistent cough, making even daily activities feel like a challenge. Also, CF can be a very slowly progressing disease that can get worse over time.

“I had no real issues growing up,” says Lauren. “But, I just hit a point while I was in college that I knew something was really wrong and I was not going to get any better.”

The Path to UPMC

Lauren knew that her condition was getting serious and that her lung function was only going to get worse. She recognized that there was only one option left – a lung transplant.

“We were really at our wits end with treatments, nothing was really helping, and we had no other choice,” says Lauren.

So, knowing that a lung transplant could save her life, Lauren and her family began searching for the best place to handle her case. Just when they were about to give up, their search led them to the UPMC Lung Transplant Program.

UPMC’s Lung Transplant Program has been helping patients, like Lauren, since its inception in 1982 and is one of the most recognized and experienced centers in the world for lung and combined heart-lung transplantation.

“It was a night and day difference when we got to UPMC,” says Lauren. “They explained everything very well and I felt like everyone really cared. I felt like I was getting better even though I was still so sick.”

After an extensive transplant evaluation, Lauren was placed on the transplant waiting list in May 2010.

The Solution

Lauren was on the waiting list for three months when she got the call that a set of lungs had become available. So, she and her mother boarded a plane and headed to Pittsburgh. Her father, who was driving, got there just in time to say good bye before she went into surgery.

“Things moved so fast, I didn’t even have time to think about what was happening. The possibility that I could soon feel better was a celebration for me, I wanted the possibility of being able to breathe again,” remembers Lauren.

Lauren underwent a successful lung transplant on Aug. 25, 2010. When she woke up after surgery, she realized that for the first time in a very long time, she did not have the urge to cough. She was finally able to get a full breath of air.

The Results

Excited to start her new life, Lauren moved to Georgia after recovering from her transplant where she met her future husband, Josh.

“I wanted something new,” says Lauren. “I had been sick for so long and I was finally free and I could do what I wanted.”

Lauren and Josh got married in May 2016. Lauren is grateful for her family and the care she received from the entire transplant team.

“My family always said that it took a village to raise me. They were always there to take care of me and help me while all of this was happening and I am so thankful for that,” says Lauren.

Lauren’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.


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