Interview with Frank Avila 

Interviewed by Andrew Oak on Sunday, November 3rd, 2002

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: 

Frank Avila is age 29 and is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. At the time of the interview he lived in Burlington, North Carolina, and worked at LabCorp as a lab technician. He was diagnosed at age three with Cystic Fibrosis.  He received a double lung transplant, and later a kidney transplant due to complications related to his anti-rejection medicine, prednisone. He received his double lung transplant at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1995 and is currently living his 7th year post transplant. He received one of his fatherís kidneys in 1997.

Excerpts from Transcript

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

Excerpt 1

 

Background: 

In this excerpt Frank discusses his response to being asked how he felt having Cystic Fibrosis affected his experiences growing up.

 

Excerpt:

It made me grow up a lot quicker, because you pretty much have to take care of yourself. You have your family, you have your friends, but pretty much itís up to if you want to take care of yourself or not. You kind of look at things a lot differently than other people. You donít takeÖ well breathing for instance; you donít take that for granted. One day youíre having a hard time breathing, and the next day itís fine, so itís a lot of little different things. But for the most part you take it one day at a time.

 

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Excerpt 2

 

Background: 

In this excerpt Frank is responding to being asked how he coped with having Cystic Fibrosis, both as a child and now after receiving a transplant.

 

Excerpt:

Itís not easy, but at the same time is a lot better than it was before. Before you just did what you had to do. It was tough because there were some days that you didnít want to do anything. Youíre just like, ďScrew it. I donít care anymore and what happens, happens,Ē but at the same time youíre like, ďWell, Iím doing this and Iím doing that,Ē and you want to accomplish your dreams and your goals. So thatís pretty much what kept me going. And thatís a lot of the reason why I did the transplant. Where there is so much stuff that I wanted to do that I wasnít ready to say, ďOk, I am finished. I donít care anymore.Ē Now it's just making sure that I stay healthy or making sure that I can do what I want to do and try to achieve some of those goals.

 

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Excerpt 3

 

Background: 

In this excerpt Frank is discussing how life is different now compared to before the transplant.

 

Excerpt:

I guess now Iím more, if you want to say, ďfree.Ē Youíre not tied down to making sure that you get your treatments done. Youíre not tied down to making sure that youíre not doing something that could harm you. I mean you still got to worry for that, but before I had to make sure I did this, I had to make sure I did that. Now itís more like, you wake up, you get dressed, you get ready for work, and you go. Before it was like, ďOkay, I get up, got to do this, I got to do that,Ē and then I can get ready for whatever reason and I can go. But at the same time Iíve had to make sure that I had everything that I needed just in case that something would happen. You start taking things a little bit more for granted now. The fact that I can breathe without even hesitating or without even losing my breath makes itÖ you kind of forget that, ďHey, five years ago you had a hard time breathing. That you were on six liters of oxygen all the time.Ē So now you got to step back and remember where you were before.

 

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Excerpt 4

 

Background: 

In this excerpt Frank is responding to a question about what he would say to someone who is thinking of receiving a transplant.

 

Excerpt:

I would tell them to go for it. Thereís so much out there to do that it's worth it. Itís definitely worth it. Itís hard; itís not easy. Thereís going to be those days where you wish you didnít do it or there are those days that you donít want to do it. And thereís days that you canít take it no more, that youíre not going to wait anymore, but in the long run itís definitely worth it. Youíre not fighting anymore to breathe. Youíre not fighting anymore to walk down the street. Youíre not fighting anymore to just get out of bed. Before you couldnít even walk down the street without losing your breath, or even walking to the car, without losing your breath. So to be able to get up and not have to worry about breathing, itís definitely worth it.

 

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Excerpt 5

 

Background: 

In this excerpt Frank is talking about the shortage of organ donors and how the huge need for organs.

 

Excerpt:

There definitely needs to be a lot more awareness because thereís not enough. Itís hard to deal with when your family gets called in (and theyíre saying), ďYour loved one or whoever, you might possibly die. Weíd like to know if you want to be an organ donor.Ē Well you donít really want to deal with that at that time so there has to be, I think, more reasons why there needs to be organ donors. Show the success stories of people that have had it. Show what they have done; show that they have made benefit of what somebody else was able to do.

 

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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