New lungs and new love
In 2014, Krystal Shaffer entered the pulmonary rehab program at Community Howard Specialty Hospital. Don Smith joined the program a little over a year later. Both had failing lungs and a common goal—becoming eligible for lung transplants.
Helping each other prepare for a lung transplant
Twice a week, month after month the two exercised and worked out beside each other at the rehab hospital in Kokomo as they worked to meet fitness and other eligibility requirements to be added to the transplant list. The strangers soon became friends as they spurred each other to continue working toward a successful transplant.
The journey wasn’t always easy. Last year, Don’s wife passed away on Christmas Eve. In the months that followed, Krystal became a source of encouragement. On Easter Sunday, Don had successful transplant surgery. When Don returned to the familiar room at the Specialty Hospital seven weeks later to begin his post-transplant therapy, it was his turn to support Krystal while she continued to work to become eligible for a transplant.
Life and love after lung transplants
With Krystal’s health failing last summer she got the call she’d been waiting for and underwent a successful double lung transplant on August 10.
As Don says, the two found more than life after their transplants. They also found love.
In the pulmonary rehab room at Community Howard Specialty Hospital where they first met and in front of the staff that have guided them on their rehab journey these many months, Don proposed.
Krystal said yes.
Best wishes to the happy couple from the pulmonary rehab team and the entire Community Howard family!