Outer Banks woman undergoes rare 3rd double-lung transplant at Duke Hospital despite pandemic

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- An Outer Banks woman is recovering and doing well at Duke University after a rare operation.

It's Tricia Lawrenson's third double-lung transplant and it's a procedure that was made even more challenging during this pandemic.

Lawrenson, a young wife and mother with Cystic Fibrosis, was shocked to be off the ventilator so soon after her procedure.

She's only the 7th patient ever at Duke to have the rare procedure, made more challenging because of COVID-19.

"It certainly has made access to organs different," said Dr. John Haney. "There are less donors available, less places where we can get to and go for organs. All the donors are tested. We've been fairly conservative about risks we take and where we go. All recipients are tested and kept well away from the other COVID-19 parts of our hospital."

Despite taking almost three times longer to find a donor, Tricia and her husband Nathan are humbled, thankful for Duke doctors, surgeons and nurses. And to the donor.

"The fact that Duke kept their transplant program open is amazing because a lot of transplant programs across the country are shut down," Nathan said.

"There's no doubt we are in uncharted territory and I think we've been able to slowly navigate through this in a safe and thoughtful way," Dr. Haney said.

Dr. Haney is optimistic, recalling the first thing he said to Tricia when she woke up.

"I think I said, 'well, you look good.' I was impressed, she's making it look easy," he said.

It's not easy. But Tricia will do whatever it takes to get home to Kill Devil Hills, to the community who gave her a loving send off to Duke and to her kids.
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