Pulmonary Hypertension | Tara’s Story

Pulmonary Hypertension | Tara’s Story

August 30, 2019 12 By Bertrand Dibbert


(soft music) – [Tara] You do what you
have to do to stay alive. (car door slams)
(engine revs) My pump was popping outta
my body every four days. I was on 24 hour pain killers. To make this drive down here, to hopefully get transplanted, was the only choice for me. It was this or be dead. (gentle piano music) I was working full time in JCPenney’s as a manager of the
fine jewelry department. I was at the top of my game. I was living life. I turned 30 years old on May 10th, 2008. Two days after that I climbed
the two flights of stairs up into the JCPenney’s building and I passed out at the top of the stairs. I wasn’t sure why I had passed out. I really didn’t think it
could be this life changing. I was sent to see a
doctor in New York City. The doctor walked and said, “I think you have a disease
called Pulmonary Hypertension.” (soft piano music) I left the hospital at New York and went to Newark. It was close to home. As I started to deteriorate more and more, their quality of care got less and less. The doctor said, “you’re
gonna need a transplant soon “and we won’t transplant you here.” I was on a subcutaneous
pump at that point. It was uncomfortable. It was always infected. It was just awful. To hopefully get transplanted
was the only choice for me. (uplifting music) – Right behind the red Hyundai. – No problem. They love me here. (laughs) I chose Penn Medicine
because Penn Medicine survival rates for pulmonary
hypertension are really great. They worked fast, but they
worked very efficiently, from the time my paperwork got sent down to the time I was listed for transplant was two and a half weeks. (uplifting music) (knocking)
Come in! – Hey Tara, how are you? – Good, how are you?
– Good to see you. – [Tara] Dr. Smith, I
love her, she’s amazing. She’s the best thing since sliced bread. (laughing) Her nurse calls me at least once a month just to check in on me and they email all the time and she texts me, ’cause
we’re close like that. – So, here’s your heart. – [Tara] Because I come from so far, Dr. Smith makes sure that everything’s all rolled into one day. – [Man] Tara. – [Tara] Everything was back to back. (machine groaning) An hour for lunch and
then back to testing. – [Man] Halfway there, three minutes left. – Okay. Everyone just works in unison and it all just flows. When I went to go see Dr. Smith she said, “well, there’s this drug “but it’s not coming out yet, “but maybe I can do something for you.” And I’m like what? You’re gonna pull strings? Are you gonna make it rain? I’m like there’s nothing
you can do for me. So she called, she called, she called, they kept turnin’ her down. But finally she said, “as
soon as it comes to market “you’re gonna be the first
person they put on it.” And I was in tears. She made me feel so human again and that little bit of
humanity was so kind. It just touched me so much. – It’s always good to see you. Call for anything, okay.
– I will. She’s just a great doctor and I wouldn’t be alive today if I didn’t have her as my doctor. (uplifting piano music) You know when it’s working in you ’cause you feel it. I am back working again, part-time. Got my oxygen during the day. I can drive again which is wonderful ’cause for a while there
I didn’t have a license ’cause I was on so many pain killers. It’s the little things that I have a new found appreciation for. (soft piano music) Being able just to take
a walk around my block. Just being able to drive
up to my sister’s house if I wanna see the kids. I feel like I’m a brand new me. And thanks to Penn Medicine I can live my life again.