Interview with Carol White 

Interviewed by Gretchen Buskirk on November 1, 2002

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: 

 

This interview portrays the lung transplantation process of Carol White, a fifty-two year old wife and mother of four who received a bilateral lung transplant from Duke Hospital in 1999.  Mrs. White grew up in Burlington, North Carolina; however, she now resides in Louisburg, North Carolina with her husband, Bill.  Mrs. White was diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), which includes emphysema or chronic bronchitis, in her late thirties due to heavy smoking.  Mrs. White had the emphysema part of COPD.  Throughout this interview, she told many stories, showing her great sense of humor that helped her get through this long ordeal.  Although this was a strenuous process, Mrs. White did not have any major setbacks or complications in her recovery.  She has no regrets about having this lung transplant and says she would do it again if need be.  Today, three years after transplant, she has returned to a normal way of life, including working full-time as a food broker for Food Lion grocery stores.  She looks forward to spending time with her eight grandchildren, traveling with her husband, and shopping. 

 

Excerpts from Transcript

Excerpt 1 | Excerpt 2 | Excerpt 3 | Excerpt 4 | Excerpt 5

Excerpt 1

 

Background: 

This quote explores the rehab Mrs. White did before her transplant at Duke Hospital.  She talks about not only the physical exercises that she did but also about the knowledge she gained from the rehab.

 

Excerpt:

That first day I went over there, they had me doing arm machines, and they had me riding the bike, and they had turned that oxygen up as high as they could get it because I couldnít breathe, I could have all the oxygen I wanted.  We would rest as we walked around the indoor track, but by the end of that four and a half weeks, I was doing good.  I mean, I still couldnít breathe, but I learned not to panic as [much]Öbecause when you canít breathe the first thing that you think about is panicking, which makes it that much harder to breathe.  I learned a lot about the disease andÖof course, they had told me then that I was down to twelve percent lung function.

 

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Excerpt 2

 

Background: 

This quote talks about her personal decision to have a lung transplant.

 

Excerpt:

It was the only hope.  They told me that I wouldnít be here another two years if I didnít have it.  I never even thought of not having it after they told me it was an option because I would have grabbed any chance to live a normal life.

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Excerpt 3

 

Background: 

Looking back, Carol White talks about her regret of smoking.

 

Excerpt:

Donít ask me why you think about these things now, but there were so many, I had four kids, and there were so many times that they would say, "Mom, I need such and such or can I have such and such?"  And Iíd say, "No, I donít have the money.  Forget it, I donít have the moneyÖIím not buying you that.  I donít have the money."  But there was not one time that I didnít have the money to buy a pack of cigarettes, not once.  And I regret that so much to this day.

 

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Excerpt 4

 

Background: 

In this quote, Carol White describes the consequences of smoking.

 

Excerpt:

Smoking is like playing Russian roulette.  Six out of every ten smokers are going to die from smoking-related illness, whether itís lung cancer or heart disease or emphysema.  When you go outside and youíre standing there outside the office and everybodyís standing around smoking.  You just look and you say, "Okay, now thereís ten of us standing out here.  Now who are going to be the six to die?"  And you just wonder.

 

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Excerpt 5

 

Background: 

Carol White reflects on her outlook on life since the transplant in this quote and talks about how the transplant has changed her view in life.

 

Excerpt:

The first spring after my transplant, Iíd get up in the mornings and Iíd come open the door and Iíd look out and Iím like, "I didnít know these trees were that green before.  I never seen the sky as blue before."  Just everything just looked so good.  Even the last few days when itís been raining, and cloudy and dreary, thereís no way if I lived a hundred years that I could express how grateful I am for the last three years Iíve had.  I look at everyday, every morning when I get up in awe.

 

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For more information, contact Dr. Mary Jo Festle, Associate Professor of History at Elon University.

Email: festle@elon.edu

This page last updated 11/24/02