Alicia Cassell - Life and Breath Foundation

Alicia Cassell

On March 2, 2001, Alicia was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis of the lungs. Her latest cycle of transformation was in 2018 when she was faced with the hard truth of her own mortality. Alicia was told there were no more medications to treat her stage four lung disease and she needed to consider being evaluated for a lung transplant. This was the second time she heard these very same words and she just couldn’t wrap my mind around such a hard decision.

In April 2018, Alicia and her family met with her transplant doctor, Dr. Christian Merlo at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland to discuss the overall transplant process. This would determine if she met the criteria to be placed on the transplant list. Her magical moment finally happened when she was placed on the transplant list. Five months later she received a call from a nurse at Johns Hopkins stating that there was a potential donor available and to wait for a call from Dr. Merlo about when to come to the hospital. On September 6, 2018, she received a call from the hospital requesting her to arrive at 2:00 am to get prepared for a double lung transplant.

Alicia became the very first Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion Surgical Patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital, performed by Dr. Errol Bush and the transplant team. ‪She feels extremely blessed to have successfully survived this very complicated surgical procedure. She is also thankful to Dr. Bush for introducing this complicated, but necessary medical intervention to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Alicia truly believes that God made it possible for her to be at the right place at the right time to receive such a wonderful gift from God. She has learned over the last few years that the butterfly symbolizes Sarcoidosis, which represents transformation and new growth. She has welcomed and experienced many learning curves, which have transformed throughout the cycles of her life and should always be evolving and not in a place of stagnation.

Alicia would like to honor the donor who made herself and others totally grateful to be his/her recipients. Her donor’s name is still unknown to her, but she knows that each of recipient believes this individual is in heaven for giving the best gift a human could give which is life; even more importantly a second chance at new life.

Alicia is a brand new butterfly and her wings are named Grace and Mercy. Her butterfly wings symbolize her new lungs. Their fluttering wings are spread wide and open so that she is able to inhale and exhale breaths of good clean air. What a beautiful transformation from darkness to new life.

Alicia with her transplant doctor, Dr. Christian Merlo.