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A Second Chance at Life

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

In March 2022, a client came to us needing insurance for a lung transplant. He had a very advanced stage of pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal illness resulting in thick scar tissue covering the lungs, with progressive stages leading to consistent shortness of breath. In this client's case, his pulmonary fibrosis was rapidly progressing, needing a consistent dose of at least 9L-10L of home oxygen daily. He was unable to maintain a conversation without gasping for air, and unable to independently carry out activities of daily living due to extreme weakness.

The client's doctor understood the dire need for a lung transplant, but without insurance, the client could not be placed on the organ transplant list. The client's doctor referred him to the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC), and we swiftly began searching for solutions. Based on this client's condition, we knew he would be an excellent candidate for TennCare CHOICES. Through the CHOICES program, the client would receive TennCare and care services at home. We worked with the Greater Nashville Regional Council to complete a Pre-Admission Evaluation and the TennCare CHOICES application. After this, we worked with TennCare's General Counsel to expedite the application based on the time sensitive nature of this case, as the health of the client was quickly deteriorating.

Once the client's TennCare CHOICES was approved, we facilitated the transplant referral process with the client's doctor and with Vanderbilt University Medical Center's (VUMC) Lung Transplant Program. Doctors said the client only had 5 to 10 months left to live if he did not get a transplant. Due to the severity of his health issues and his status, VUMC elected to keep him in the ICU until his evaluations for the transplant, and placement on the transplant list had been completed. After many tests and procedures, VUMC deemed the client an excellent candidate for a lung transplant and placed him high on the organ transplant list. Throughout this process, TJC was in daily communication with the client and his providers to ensure the process was going smoothly. Two weeks after being placed on the transplant list, the client received news that a match had been found and he would be rushed into transplant surgery the next morning. In May 2022, the client successfully underwent the lung transplant procedure and is now recovering very well.

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