Bobby and his wife Ashley are outdoor enthusiasts and enjoy camping, backpacking, hiking, biking and snowboarding. In early 2015 their active lifestyle started to slow down as Bobby began to feel ill. “We visited urgent care twice. I was feeling worse and worse. We went to the local ER when I was having trouble breathing,” he remembers.
Bobby was under the care of a local pulmonologist near their home in Bordentown, NJ. He was diagnosed with Acute Interstitial Pneumonia and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) which causes fluid to build up in the lungs, and deprives the organs of the oxygen they need to function.
After four days at the local hospital and already on a ventilator, he was urgently transferred by ambulance to the Temple Lung Center.
According to Ashley, as Bobby’s illness progressed, it was excruciating watching Bobby suffer. “It was a total shock and a living nightmare. It was something I would never want anyone to have to go through,” she recalls.
Bobby was hospitalized for a total of three and a half months. For one and a half months of that time he was in a drug-induced coma in order to control his declining condition. He was also on ECMO, which uses an artificial lung to oxygenate the blood. Bobby needed a lung transplant if he was to survive.
Ashley and Bobby’s commitment to each other is a true love story. The couple became engaged at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Spring 2014 in Washington, DC, and planned for a wedding in the Autumn of 2015. When Bobby became ill in January 2015, the couple was forced to adjust their wedding plans.
Through a contact at The Gift of Life Family House where she was staying during Bobby’s hospitalization, Ashley was introduced to a judge in Philadelphia. “The judge said that she would be honored to marry us and travel to the hospital,” she recalls. “So there wasn’t much planning. It was simple and it was perfect.” The staff of the CICU thoughtfully provided decorations and refreshments. “It was really cute and so nice of them. They had seen all that he had gone through already and so it was really special,” continues Ashley.
The newlyweds then received the best wedding gift a few hours before their wedding ceremony. “We were told that they had a prospective donor for Bobby. That was totally unexpected and we were extremely excited. It was the best day of my life! And then, that night after our wedding, they took him to have his transplant surgery,” shares Ashley.
Yoshiya Toyoda, MD, PhD, Surgical Director of Heart and Lung Transplantation at Temple University Hospital, performed Bobby’s double lung transplant. “Dr. Toyoda is an amazing surgeon,” Bobby continues, “He’s innovative, smart beyond belief, and he took very good care of me. Not to mention, he saved my life.”
Bobby says Temple committed to his treatment plan from the beginning. “It was a long, arduous journey, filled with many unknowns, but, Temple never gave up on me” he says.
Both Bobby and Ashley look back on their Temple experience with so much gratitude. “Temple’s staff including everyone from housekeeping to the guards, to the nurses, to the doctors, to the technicians, I mean, everybody went out of their way to help us,” Ashley shares.