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YOUR STORIES: Johnson recovering after double lung transplant

Barbie Johnson is shown earlier this year while awaiting a double lung transplant.
Barbie Johnson is shown earlier this year while awaiting a double lung transplant.

TRURO, N.S. – Local people are rejoicing with Truro’s Barbie Johnson.

In what seems rather miraculous to family and friends, Johnson received a double-lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital, Nov. 26.

Shirley DeBay said her sister is progressing nicely approximately 12 days after the major surgery.

“Barbie was not going to make it without the transplant,” said DeBay, of Brentwood. “We nearly lost her a couple of times. Now, in talking to Barbie every couple of days, her voice is so much stronger, she sounds really good. I pray that Barbie doesn’t reject the lungs.

“She is my baby sister and one of the strongest people I have ever known; Barbie has been seriously sick for a long time but she has shown us incredible fight. I love her so much – we pray she keeps getting stronger and that she comes home healthy.”

We threw the idea around of getting comments from Barbie. What follows is Barbie’s responses to questions, as posed by her sister.

Q: How are you feeling?

A: I’m feeling great. I feel this is a miracle that happened, I’m so grateful that so many people back home care and are praying for me. It means so much.

Q: What are the doctors saying?

A: The doctors tell me I am doing well and that I have to start building up my new lungs. It’s been a long road. I moved up to Toronto the first of June; there were several close calls before the transplant. The doctors are working with me to build up my lungs and body strength. I’m still quite frail.

Q: Regarding returning home to Nova Scotia, what are your thoughts?

A: Seeing my son and my granddaughter will be wonderful. I’m looking forward to going on a ride on Gordie’s motorcycle. He bought me a new helmet I have never used. Seeing my family again will be great; knowing how much they care means the world to me.

Q: What went through your mind when you were told they had found lungs that matched?

A: I was shocked but I didn’t have time to be scared or think about things.

It was hard to believe the operation was really going to happen. I had been depressed,

I didn’t think I was going to get a set of lungs. I told Gordie I’d probably die before a transplant could take place; I’m so grateful Gordie supported me all the way.

Shirley talked with other family members including Gordie Thompson, Barbie’s

partner.

 “It was a real shock when the hospital called,” said Thompson, a Truro mechanic.

“We had waited a long time for Barbie to have a chance for a normal life. I was so grateful as we rushed to the hospital. It has been tough mentally, worrying about finances and all; we may have to stay here in Toronto for a few more months.”

Karen Blinn, of Truro, said it was difficult when Barbie had to leave Nova Scotia.

“But it was her only chance for a healthy life. When Shirley called me with the news about the transplant, I was overjoyed. I feel our family has received a Christmas miracle.”

Another sister, Donna Lesley of Truro, said Barbie has had many near-death experiences.

“When the phone would ring, I’d hold my breath. As she waited for a donor, Toronto seemed so far away. Barbie’s heart stopped before the transplant, they had to bring her back. It was not a heart attack; her heart was apparently tired. It’s all hard to understand. When I received the call from Shirley that the transplant was a success, I cried with joy. I’m continuing to pray; this is all in God’s hands.”

Shirley said Barbie, 56, was the youngest of 15 Johnson children who grew up in

Truro and Brookfield. A successful benefit was held at Truro Raceway July 8 for the former Crossly employee but Shirley is reluctant to approach the public again. However, upon further discussion, we determined another fundraiser is definitely necessary.

If someone experienced in this area will step up and help spearhead an early 2018

fundraiser for Barbie Johnson, Shirley and I both plan to be on board.

Lyle Carter’s column appears every second Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 902 763-2857.

 

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