Double-lung recipients build bond, continue rehab together at Mercy Hospital in Oelwein
by Adam Amdor
Lung transplants in Iowa aren’t too common, with only a handful each year since the first one at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 1988. So it’s pretty unique to find the 121st and 123rd Iowa lung transplant patients in the same town. Both live in the community of Oelwein; and both survivors are double-lung recipients.
It’s amazing Pam Haun and Josh Voshell received their lungs so close together. The two were added to the waiting list within a few months of each other. They ended up having surgery just seven and a half weeks apart.
“Everything just kind of fell into place,” says Voshell. “I just came out of my transplant and she came and visited me. We hit it off from there.”
The two built a bond while receiving treatment in Iowa City, and are continuing their friendship at Mercy Hospital’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Department in Oelwein. It’s the only department of its kind within Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-Iowa.
“We just have so much in common. Every time we see each other we can talk,” says Haun. “He went through pretty much exactly the same thing I’ve been through. Who gets the opportunity to do that?”
Josh Voshell has battled cystic fibrosis since a young age. With his transplant on Halloween this year, he’s beginning a new life at the age of 33. Pam Haun fought Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease for the past several years and needed oxygen assistance 24 hours a day. She doesn’t need it anymore.
“I am so honored to be part of this journey with them,” says respiratory therapist Brianne Ledesma. “They are both off all of their respiratory medications now since they have healthy, normal lungs!”
The journey isn’t over. Pam and Josh meet for therapy three times a week at Mercy Hospital’s Pulmonary Rehab Department. “This program here is absolutely the best thing that’s ever happened to us. It’s built us up,” says Haun. “It just feels good to feel good again.”