After a long career as a nurse at The Regina General Hospital, Liz Paulowicz has always been the one to care for others. Liz was happily married, a mom and grandma. She was enjoying spending time with her family and her nursing career when she suddenly had to take on a role that was completely new to her. Liz became the patient.
Every Breath Became a Worry
Liz was diagnosed with scleroderma – an autoimmune disease that later caused pulmonary fibrosis, leaving her breathless. As her the pulmonary fibrosis progressed, she needed full-time care, forcing her husband to retire early. Liz couldn’t take a deep breath in, and she could barely walk a few feet without supplemental oxygen. Every breath became a worry for her. “I didn't know if my next breath would come or not," she recalls. Liz’s only hope to live was to have a lung transplant.
A Gift from an Angel
“On February of 2012, I received a gift from an angel,” says Liz. Liz received a double lung transplant and her ‘angel’ or donor has now given her six more years to be with her family, friends and grandchildren. "I remember what it felt like to actually take a deep breath in, something I hadn't been able to do in years. I didn't have to panic anymore. That meant a lot." says Liz.
Although it took about a year to recover from her lung transplant, Liz is happy with her progress and grateful for the care she was given. “The care I’ve received from the transplant teams in Saskatoon and Edmonton was incredible. I couldn't have asked for a better team.”
A New Life Again
For Liz, getting a second breath meant “a new life again!” She sees her gift as a blessing and an opportunity to watch her grandchildren grow. Liz and her husband celebrated their 50th anniversary in July. They hosted a big party, bringing together all their friends and family, another gift from her ‘angel.’
Liz knows what a big decision it was for her to put her name on the lung transplant list. She was fortunate to have great support from her husband and family. After having a transplant, she says, “I think if you can get through that, you can pretty well stand anything. It makes you very strong.”
Liz is using that strength to give back to others. She always makes herself available to speak to people who are suffering from lung disease and contemplating a lung transplant. She also encourages everyone to sign their donor cards and to talk to their families about their organ donation wishes just like her 'angel' did years ago.