Interview with Ruth Hall

Interviewed by John Stephen Bolger III

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: 

Ruth Hall is the recipient of a single lung transplant that she received in 1997 at the Duke Lung Transplant Center in Durham, North Carolina.  The transplant was brought upon by the discovery that she had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 1981, a disease she contracted from smoking her entire life.  Throughout her life she has tries to live one day at a time, never afraid of death due to a steadfast belief in God who which in her words, ďWill provide for her.Ē 

She is a divorced mother of one son, and lives in King, North Carolina with the aid of a friend who lives with her and helps to take care of her needs.  Her lung rejected on her in 1999 and until May of 2002 she was on a waiting list to receive another transplant until it was discovered her kidneys were too weak to sustain another operation. 

She enjoys the little things in life, such as playing with her grandchildren, attending ballgames and going to church.  She has demonstrated throughout her life a drive and courage that far outweigh most things anyone could imagine to have gone through.  In the end what she wishes people would most remember about her is that she tried, she fought and she won.     

Excerpts from Transcript

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

Excerpt 1

 

Background: 

When discussing lung transplants people have a tendency to only think about the actual operation that the patient has to endure and not necessarily the medical problems that could and do arise after the surgery.  In this quote Miss Hall gives some insight to the medical problems that occur after a transplant and the ways transplant patients handle them.

Excerpt:

See youíre on a lot of medicines.  And just different types of medicines react on you in different ways. But you have to stay on them.  As well as the doctors say, you just trade in a big problem for just little bits of problems.  Which is fine-I can deal with being sick a day in a month or two or three days in a month or a virus. If you know itís going to be over with.  I had the chickenpox; I had to stay in the hospital quarantined for a week.  So I mean I already had the chickenpox but still I got it because my immune system was so low.  It was lying dormant in my body. So when this lung transplant came along it brought it back out you see.

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Excerpt 2

 

Background: 

 

Here Miss Hall gave me the first glimpse into what actual physical effects having bad lungs can lead to.  It's hard to understand how having a transplant can actually affect people in their day-to-day lives but after reading this quote a more vivid picture can be painted when trying to imagine what lung transplant patients endure.     

 

Excerpt:

Do you think taking an oxygen tank, going out that door, and getting to the vehicle and having to sit there for five minutes before you get anywhere to get your breathe, is that quality of life?  I donít think so.  Iím not a person to sit around. I will find away.  If I die, Iíll be in a better place.  Thatís the way I look at it and Iím ready to go.

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Excerpt 3

 

Background: 

 

This quote helps shed light on what waiting on a list can do to people.  Itís a never ending process of not knowing.  Will today be the day that a patient will get a second chance at life?  They never know and it is the not knowing whether someone will get that chance they drives some people to the point of insanity during this process.

 

Excerpt:

I use to refer to it like having a baby.  Now itís like the baby, you do know when itís coming, nine months later.  This you donít know if itís coming in two months, eighteen months or two years later. 

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Excerpt 4

 

Background: 

A very short and simple answer, yet it speaks so loudly for what people who need transplant feel, and helps explain to people who donít know what it really is like.  The power to breathe is something that people take for grant until they donít have it anymore,  just as some people do with loved ones.

Excerpt:

 

People just donít realize how much energy it takes to breathe.

 

 

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Excerpt 5

 

Background: 

Something that may be surprising to some people was just how little Miss Hall thought of doctors at some points through her process.  Throughout the interview she eluded to doctors not telling her things or not feeling like they were treating her right.  She instead listens and puts more faith into what other lung transplant patients say and have gone through when she is having a tough time.  This quote puts all of those ideas into one big context.

Excerpt:

A doctor does not know.  They see you maybe five minutes at a time.  They donít even do nothing but check your x-rays, blood work.  Check to see if you have any congestion in your lungs.  These people you talk to everyday, or talk to two or three times a day.

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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