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Man Has Double Lung Transplant Despite Sept. 11th Terror

By Eric Parthenia


Jeremy Wilson has two new lungs, but it almost did not happen thanks to 9/11.


Doctors told the Homestead man, who turns 24 today, he had less than a year to live unless he received a double-lung transplant. Cystic fibrosis, which Wilson acquired eight years ago, was the reason for the radical procedure.

His doctors scheduled his Sept. 11 operation when two lungs became available in San Diego a few hours past midnight. The normal procedure would have been to fly the organs to the recipient's hospital.


But as we all know, the events of the morning of September 11th caused the FAA to shut down all air traffic in the United States. No exemptions were made (though the next day the FAA relaxed the restrictions for medical emergencies). It seemed Jeremy's luck was running out.


But workers at San Diego's Organ Recovery Center were not going to let the terrorists claim another life. They contacted FedEx and arranged for an emergency ground transport to Homestead. FedEx picked up the lungs and off they went. Meantime, SDORC contacted a taxi service in Homestead to have a car waiting to pick up the "package" at a local FedEx Ground shipment center. Normally they would have arranged for ambulance service, but all medical facilities had been put on alert for terrorist attacks, and special needs were not being allowed.


SDORC selected a FedEx Center close to the medical center where Jeremy and his surgeons would be waiting. One of the head nurses volunteered to meet the FedEx truck in order to insure the valuable contents were cared for.


Within 12 hours, the organs were delivered safely, and Jeremy received his new lungs after an eight-hour operation.


Now Jeremy Wilson no longer labors for every breath. And he's stopped counting the days remaining on his calendar.