Jackie Dennis, a 31-year-old special education teacher in New Boston, MI, said she’s doing well 2 months after the transplant, and so is her 4-month-old daughter, Mia Rose. On Wednesday, Dennis and her Henry Ford Health System medical team shared her story with news outlets.
“I feel actually pretty normal,” she said. “Things are still a little hard, maybe taking too many steps, going up and down the stairs, but generally speaking I can do almost everything I want to, besides picking up Mia just yet.”
After 5 days in the hospital, she got severe hypertension and signs of preeclampsia, according to the DetroitFree Press. Two days later, doctors decided to induce labor. After she delivered her baby, Dennis developed pneumonia and needed a ventilator. After two convalescent plasma infusions and no improvement, she was transferred to the Detroit hospital in December and placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO. She was placed on the transplant list in January and received a double lung transplant on Jan. 16.
“Her lungs were completely destroyed by this inflammatory response to the virus, and without transplant, she would not have been able to be alive,” Lisa Allenspach, MD, medical director of the Henry Ford Lung Transplant Program, told the AP.
“Her situation was probably as severe as anyone that we transplant,” she said.
Dennis made a “record-breaking recovery,” Allenspach told the Free Press. Within a few weeks, she was taken off the ventilator, and she was discharged from the hospital in less than a month. She’s now home with Mia and her husband, Ricky, and attends pulmonary rehabilitation 4 days a week. Doctors expect her to be able to return to work and her daily activities.
“I’m really grateful,” Dennis told the newspaper. “I was able to FaceTime [Mia] and see her, but actually seeing her and getting her put in my arms was just amazing.”