Shelbyville patient needing lung transplant turned away by Louis - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Shelbyville patient needing lung transplant turned away by Louisville doctors

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Shelbyville man is in the fight of his life.

He desperately needed a lung transplant and a hospital that was willing to do his surgery. But, doctors in Louisville turned him away.

The sweet breath of life is slipping away from Bobby Webb. His body is battered by cystic fibrosis, a disease forcing mucus to buildup and destroy his lungs.

"I don't know if anybody ever comes to terms with dying," Webb said. "I think about it sometimes ... I just try to put it in the back of my head ... You don't want to live days like that."

Webb survives on a cocktail of medications hooked to oxygen 24 hours a day. 

The lungs he received from a donor in 2011 are failing. But Jewish Hospital refuses to do a second transplant.

In a rejection letter, the hospital tells the 42-year old man he's, "...perceived too high of a risk by a few individuals." 

Webb says those individuals were not his physicians, rather a committee of several doctors from several specialties deciding which cases the hospital takes. 

"I don't understand how they can decide my fate over my surgeon and doctor, who have been with me the last five years and treated me," Webb said.

Organ donation is a complicated formula, weighted by who's the sickest, the right match and the most likely to survive. You can't get on the list without a transplant center taking your case. 

"I always tell patients a lung transplant is not a cure," Dr. David Nunley said. "It's another form of treatment."

While Jewish hospital declined an on-camera comment for Webb's story, we talked to one of its leading lung transplant surgeons just a few weeks ago. 

"The lung is probably the most complicated organ to manage after transplantation," Dr. Nunley said. "We have to turn off or suppress the immune system of a lung transplant recipient so that their body doesn't reject the lungs given to them by another person."

Dr. Nunley says about half the hospital's lung recipients die within five years. It underscores the critical need for donors. 

"In Kentucky, we have 1,000 patients waiting for the call saying they will be given hope through a transplant," said Amber McGuire with Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates.

One person dies every 10 minutes waiting for an organ donation. But still, Webb refuses to give up.

Putting his testimony online, he's launched a campaign, e-mailing and petitioning in hopes of getting Jewish hospital to change its mind. 

He says the transplant committee will reconsider his case Friday. 

"They (doctors) told me I have six months to a year (to live). That was in December," Webb said. 

He's in the fight of his life, for his life.

Jewish Hospital statement

Our organ transplant committee consists of experts across specialties who are actively involved in transplant surgery and care. Transplant candidates are evaluated based on their unique individual case. There are a variety of factors which determine the decision to proceed with a transplant, including the patient’s medical history, availability of suitable donor organ and other medical considerations. When a patient is not a candidate for transplant at Jewish Hospital, our team works closely with the patient to help identify potential alternative transplant venues.

The scarcity of donor organs is a significant issue in Kentucky and across the country.

If you'd like to sign up for organ donation, click here

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