Double lung transplant recipients Irene Marra, Allison Stokes and Deb Lofgreen being honored at a Diamondbacks game in 2019.
Prior to her lung transplant, Irene Marra had only 14 percent lung capacity due to autoimmune COPD inherited from her family. Irene could only walk around her house and out to her mailbox box without having to stop and catch her breath. She thought she would not be not a candidate for a life-saving lung transplant, but thankfully she did qualify. She was put on the transplant waitlist on Friday and was called on the following Tuesday to go to St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center, part of the Dignity Health family, that there was a lung donor waiting for her.
Her transplant took place on June 17, 2015 and has given Irene’s life purpose in immeasurable ways. She is extremely grateful for St. Joseph’s medical team and her donor. She feels like she has a second chance in life, and she’s using her second chance to help other transplant recipients transition to their new way of life.
Irene feels its vitally important to educate the public so they know how important and life-changing organ donation can be. When speaking to potential organ donors she would ask them “Would you like to be a hero? Do you know your organs live on? Do you know you can’t take them with you! Please sign up and be an organ and tissue donor please.”
A few years ago while attend a transplant support group meeting, Irene met Deb Lofgreen, a fellow double-lung transplant recipient and soon-to-be mentor. Deb ask her if she would like to participate in the Transplant Games of America. Since then she has become an active participant in the Games and with the local team members. She has been to two US games and one World Transplant Games in the UK in 2019. She hopes to participate in the upcoming Games in New Jersey and Houston. In order to prepare, Irene practices bowling and track and field. Her favorite event is bowling, as she’s a IPA wannabe league member. Irene wants to win medals, of course, and her ultimate goal is to meet participates outside of Arizona.
As well as sponsoring Irene at the World Transplant Games, St. Joseph’s sponsored the inaugural 2019 Arizona Transplant Games in Chandler. As part of St. Joseph’s follow-up care for their transplant patients, they emphasize a daily exercise regimen to stay healthy after their transplant. The doctors, nurses, and social workers of St. Joe’s supported the AZ Games as a important community effort to keep transplant patients at their best.
Thank you Irene for always raising organ donor awareness and being a integral part of Transplant Team Arizona.