Lung Transplant Couple celebrates Valentine's Day

11:44 PM, Feb 13, 2011   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

St. Louis- (KSDK)-- On the journey of life, there may be no better compass than love. For Kevin and Christena Jones, their journey together really started at St. Louis Children's hospital.

The doctors and nurses are like family to them because that's what happens when you spend a lot of time together.

Kevin spent more than 6 months in and out of Children's hospital when he was just 12 years old. He had Cystic Fibrosis and needed a liver and lung transplant.

"If I was to walk up a flight of steps back then, I'd be gasping for air, " recalled Kevin.

Christena was also diagnosed with CF.

"I was actually out of school for months. Weeks and months at a time, " says Christena.

She had her lung transplant when she was 16.

Though they're both from Kentucky, they didn't really know each other until meeting briefly one time here at the hospital.

"While I was here for some of my normal routine checkups. He was here for one of his annual checkups, " Christena remembered.

A short time later, back home near Christena's college, they agreed to meet for lunch and quickly discovered they had a lot to talk about. One thing they didn't talk about was

"When Kevin and I met we basically didn't have to go through all that. It was like skipping 5 chapters. It was finally down to the normal stuff, " Christena explained.

Then, last year in front of friends, family and some of the doctors and nurses who saved their lives, Kevin and Christena got married.

"What we do this for is to give children a second chance, " says Dr. Stuart Sweet of St. Louis Children's hospital. He performed lung transplant surgery on both Kevin and Christena. "And they've made the most of their second chance."

Half of all lung transplant patients die within five years of their surgery but Kevin is now 23 years old.

"So to be out more than ten years is a success story, " says Dr. Sweet.

And what makes success, according to Christena is not quantity but quality.

"If I want to go shopping, " she says, "I don't have to worry about taking a wheelchair or oxygen. I can go and I can walk and I can feel normal."

They still come to St. Louis every six months for checkups and hugs. So far, the results are all positive.

"Just to see how happy they are. How they're able to use their shared experiences to grow together, " says Dr. Sweet.

Kevin and Christena believe they're not much different than anyone else. No one after all, is guaranteed tomorrow. A journey together is best measured not in miles but in smiles.

"If we don't live another day, " says Christena, "we got this far and we had a great life."


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