Life After PH – a Column by Kathleen Sheffer


After fighting idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension with combined intravenous and oral therapies for 17 years, Kathleen received a heart-lung transplant on July 1, 2016. Now in her late 20s, she works as a photographer in San Francisco, California, and writes about the transition from life with PH to life with chronic immunosuppression. See her photography at

The Call that Changed My Life

As soon as the first words were out of his mouth, I knew the man on the phone was calling to offer me organs. I had imagined this phone call several times a day for the past month. He rushed through the script, stumbling over some parts.

Healing While Waiting for Transplant

The hard part I’ve heard that waiting for the transplant is the hardest part. Every day after my transplant, I heard, “This is the hardest part,” leaving me a firm believer in relativism and forever poised for future “hardest parts.” When I went on the heart-lung transplant list,…

Why I Avoid Congratulating Transplant Recipients

When I tell someone I had a heart-lung transplant, I’m usually greeted with “congratulations,” unless they are particularly clueless and say, “Get well soon.” When I was dealing with intense postoperative pain and brain fog, it upset me to be congratulated on my “new life.” With multiple blood draws, tests,…