Interview with Dana Schmidt 

Interviewed by Kelly Foster on November 19th, 2002

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: 

 

Dana Schmidt was born in her hometown of Camden, South Carolina.  When she was three months old, she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.  She attended high school, and graduated from the University of South Carolina.  Up until her lung transplant, Dana did not want to think about the possibility of future problems.  After Danaís honeymoon, for the first time, she became in desperate need of a lung transplant.  She was only 23 years old then.  Luckily, she got accepted at Duke and was wait-listed.  She expressed her fear of the future and the physical problems that she experienced up until her transplant.  She also talks about how she coped, and about her involvement in the ďSecond WindĒ organization.  Dana was successfully transplanted two months after she got on the waiting list.  This all happened two years prior to the interview.  She tells about some of her complications after her surgery as well, but mainly discusses how much better her life currently is.  She also discussed the fact that she decided to contact the donor family.  She has a positive outlook on the future and was very glad that she went through with her lung transplant.  She advises that people opt to donate their organs after they die in order to save lives.   

 

Excerpts from Transcript

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

Excerpt 1

 

Background: 

Mrs. Schmidt speaks about how she felt when she was in the hospital when she started to become sick.

 

Excerpt:

I didnít want to think about transplant, I didnít want to think about life after transplant, I just wanted to get well and go home.  But when I got home, I realized that I was on oxygen 24 hours a day, I was on a Bi-Pap machine at night, and life was miserable.  It took all of my energy just to take a shower, all of my energy just to get out of bed.  So life was pretty miserable I would say.  It was awful.

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Excerpt 2

 

Background: 

Mrs. Schmidt was asked what it was like waiting for the two months before her transplant.  Her response is as follows.

Excerpt:

Every day was a struggle for me.  I was trying to go to physical therapy, because they wanted me to go to physical therapy to get stronger for the transplant, and I missed a lot of those days because I was just so incredibly weak.  I couldnít even get out of bed, I couldnít walk from the bed to the bathroom.  And it was very depressing.  I canít say how depressing it was because itís like, 6 months previous to this, I was planning a wedding, going to work full time, and now I am literally like, bound to the bed.  It was pretty bad.

 

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Excerpt 3

 

Background: 

I asked Mrs. Schmidt whether she ever felt like she would not receive the transplant.  She began talking about the night before her transplant. 

Excerpt:

I did not sleep a wink that night, and it was basically because I could not breathe.  And I told myself if I didnít get a transplant soon, then I knew that I was going to die because it was just awful.  I couldnít lay down.  I had to be on like 5 pillows to sit up just so I could breathe.  So basically the night before I had my transplant was when I got really scared.  That I may not get it in time. 

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Excerpt 4

 

Background: 

Mrs. Schmidt compares her life now to the way it was when she had CF.

 

Excerpt:

Well itís really like night and day.  Because, with CF you had so much limitations.  And I do have limitations now.  But theyíre not nearly as much as I did with CF.  I mean, with CF, you get progressively worse.  You get used to being sicker and sicker and sicker.  You get used to not being able to breathe, and there is so much that you canít do.  You canít walk up a flight of stairs without losing your breath.  And now, itís just like like I said, like night and day.  I can walk the flight of stairs and not get winded at all.  And if somebody says, ďLetís do something physical,Ē I can actually do it.  Before, with CF, I had to do breathing treatments twice a day.  I had to have what was called chest physical therapy twice a day.  And I know this sounds silly but just not to have to do that every morning and every night is just the greatest.

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Excerpt 5

 

Background: 

I asked Mrs. Schmidt what she would say to people who were unsure of whether they would like to donate their organs.  This is a portion of her answer. 

Excerpt:

Just look at me.  I mean, look at me, from the time I was sittin' there on the ventilator for two months, till now.  I mean, you literally save someoneís life.  And you, you canít take them with you [organs].  Itís like you see all these lung commercials say "You canít take them with you."  And thatís true.  You canít.  I mean, you can, but whatís the point?  When you can literally save up to 8 peopleís lives with, with your organs. . . and I just think thatís incredible.  And if I could be an organ donor, I certainly would be. 

 

 

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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