At just 33 years old, with two young girls, Liz faced a devastating diagnosis. She had scleroderma, a rare autoimmune disease, along with pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure that can lead to heart failure.
Doctors in New York, where Liz was from, told her that her condition was terminal. They gave her two to five years to live.
“But I had two little girls I wanted to see grow up,” she says.
So, Liz sought out a transplant. But hospitals in three different states turned down her case because of the risk involved.
“They said I was too sick,” she says. “One even told me I would be a waste of resource."
But her fight didn’t end there. She did more research and found UPMC. She traveled to Pittsburgh for a transplant evaluation, and she learned she would need both a heart transplant and double-lung transplant.
At the time, UPMC was one of only a few hospitals in the country to perform transplants in patients with scleroderma.
“It really raises the risk level,” says Michael Mathier, MD, clinical director, UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. “But here at UPMC, we are one of the go-to places in the world for challenging cases.”
Unlike the previous hospitals that evaluated her, UPMC doctors gave Liz hope. And less than two years later, she got the lifesaving transplants she needed.
“They take the hard cases, and they were willing to take that chance with me,” Liz says.
It’s been well over a decade since her transplants, and Liz got to fulfill one dream by seeing her girls graduate from high school. She also wrote a book about her experiences to give hope and inspiration to people who face similar difficulties.
“Sometimes, you’re meant to stick around,” she says.
At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means giving hope even in the most challenging cases.
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