A Roseburg woman is in dire need of a double lung transplant and is just waiting and hoping a pair of lungs will soon be available.
Amy Sutten-Shattenkerk, who just turned 50 in September, began seeing a Portland doctor a couple of years ago because of a heart problem. But she didn’t know the heart issues were causing her lungs to deteriorate. Shattenkerk has been in and out of a Portland hospital on a regular basis since then.
April Flamion said doctors diagnosed her mother with pulmonary arterial hypertension. It was causing arteries to harden and was damaging her lungs, preventing her from getting enough oxygen.
“She’s on oxygen all the time,” said Flamion. “She has a medicinal pump that they put in her heart. They’re at the point where they’ve given her all the medication they can give her.”
Flamion said the doctors determined they can’t do anything more so they decided a double lung transplant was the only solution. When lungs become available, the transplant surgery will be done at a Seattle hospital.
“They decided she’s going to need the transplant to live,” Flamion said.
So over the next nine months, more tests will be done and Schattenkerk will be waiting for her chance to get new lungs. The hospital has told her that nine months would be the longest she would be on the waiting list.
Once she has the transplant, she’ll have to live in Seattle for a few more months so doctors can track her during the recovery process. If any issues come up, she has to be within an hour of the hospital.
The expenses have been adding up rapidly. Because she is such a high risk, Schattenkerk has had to travel to the Oregon Health Sciences University hospital in Portland for any medical procedures. And it’s about to get a lot more expensive.
The average cost of a double lung transplant is about $1 million, and that’s just the start. She will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications, which doctors say are as critical to her survival as the transplant itself.
“They spend a lot of money and time (going to doctor’s appointments) and she lives with my grandmother and grandfather because they’re elderly and she has been taking care of them. So on top of all this, she’s been taking care of her parents,” said Flamion.
Because of her declining health, Schattenkerk had to leave her job of 28 years, as a caregiver, program manager and case manager in both private and public sector, adding to the financial strain.
Schattenkerk is signed up with the national transplant list, which has a fund list where donations may be made by clicking on a link and donating online.
“They get the money and then disperse it toward things she needs like rent, medical bills, anything like that,” Flamion said.
Flamion said there has been an urgency in fundraising because the lungs could come available at any time.
She said her mother is optimistic, and is looking forward to returning to the family farm and being with friends and resuming some of the activities she loves.
“Mostly, she is hoping one day to be a grandmother,” Flamion said.
To find out more information or to donate to the Amy Sutten-Schattenkerk lung transplant fund, go to http://give.transplants.org/goto/amysuttenschattenkerk.