Interview with Steven Bunsen

Interviewed by Kristen Nagy on November 5, 2002

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: 

 

Mr. Steven Bunsen was born on September 21st, 1952 in Oldridge, Nebraska.  He currently works as a grain farmer in south-central Nebraska.  Throughout most of his life he has stayed within ten miles of where he was born and raised.  He traveled outside of Nebraska for a period of time in order to serve as a member of the Army National Guard in the Ď70ís.  He was based in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and completed Advanced Instructional Training in Fort Gordon, Georgia.  Today he is fifty years old.

 

Steve was diagnosed with a disease called Alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency in 1988.  He was thirty-six years old at the time.  Alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency is a genetic form of  Emphysema.  In this particular disease, the liver does not produce an enzyme that wards off the Emphysema problems in the lungs.  The most severe symptom that comes with the disease is the constant shortness of breath.  Sometimes weight loss can also occur.  Mr. Bunsenís condition required that he be confined to a wheelchair and an oxygen tank 24/7.  Often times Emphysema is related to cigarette smoking.  Steve Bunsen smoked cigarettes for twenty plus years. 

 

About ten years ago Steve had the transplant at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.  He is in good health and continues to work as a grain farmer in Nebraska.

 

Excerpts from Transcript

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

Excerpt 1

 

Background: 

This quote is Mr. Bunsen speaking in reference to how the disease interfered with his daily life.  It is important to understand exactly how restricting living with lung disease can be.  All aspects of normal daily life are affected. 

 

Excerpt:

It was terrible.  Being on the farm and what have you, and then daily activities, you know, when you run out of breath you canít breathe and you canít do a whole lot, no matter what you do.  I mean if youíre working in an office and you have to get up and do something, or whatever.  It was very tough.  I did stay as active as I could because I knew that it would benefit me in the long run if I did have surgery.  But it got to the point before surgery, about the last six months I was confined to a wheelchair and I was on oxygen 24/7.

 

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Excerpt 2

 

Background: 

Mr. Bunsen described his evaluation experience.  The length of time an individual must wait to be accepted as a candidate for a lung transplant is different for everybody.  For some it takes one or two years, and for others it may take just a few weeks.

 

Excerpt:

I went down early summer of í91 for the evaluation, which took about a week by the time you get everything done.  I came home and waited three weeks, and they called back and said I had been accepted and put on the list.

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Excerpt 3

 

Background:

This is an excerpt from Mr. Bunsenís description of how he found out about lung transplantation being an option for him.  This is a very important passage because it proves that not all medical professionals are exact.  Mr. Bunsenís experience also shows that a second opinion is essential.

 

Excerpt:

When I talked to him I said I am probably somewhere out in left field, and he said no youíre on third base, but home plate is a long ways away.  At that time in 1988 he said it would probably be ten years before they would even consider a transplant because of the newness of it.  We just pushed and pushed and pushed and researched and ended up four years later I was done!

 

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Excerpt 4

 

Background: 

This next excerpt illustrates what can be gained from having a lung transplant.  It is hard to imagine that the surgery could produce such amazing results.  In this specific passage, it is obvious that Mr. Bunsen believes his transplant to be worthwhile.

 

Excerpt:

Iíll never forget that first day they let me out of the hospital.  We were standing out front of Barnes there and itís a huge place, itís almost a city block long.  We were standing out there getting fresh air and the surgeon that did my surgery comes driving up the wrong direction and rolled his window down and said, ďWhatís it like getting that breath of fresh air?Ē  I said, ďYouíll never know.Ē  It was great.

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Excerpt 5

 

Background: 

I asked Mr. Bunsen if he would undergo a second transplant if necessary.  He wasted no time offering his response.  He undoubtedly would agree to have surgery a second time if he must.  Mr. Bunsen felt that the transplant was certainly worthwhile.

 

Excerpt:

Absolutely.  If Barnes would consider re-transplantation and life could be as good as it has been these past ten years, you bet.  I wouldnít hesitate in a minute.  I hope I never have to, but if the time would come, you bet I would.

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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