New Hope For Transplant Patient

By Tony Shin
|  Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011  |  Updated 9:29 PM PDT
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Husband's Desperate Plea To Save His Wife

NBCSanDiego

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San Diegans Rally for Ill Woman

Philip Howell pleaded for the public's help to save his wife. The response was overwhelming.

Husband's Desperate Plea To Save His Wife

North County woman needs a double lung transplant within two weeks.
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Philip Howell can't believe the support his wife is getting from strangers.

"We talk about the community of San Diego, they have really stepped up to the bat, they have gone beyond the call of duty and it's unreal,"Philip told NBCSanDiego on Monday.

Last Friday, NBCSanDiego aired a story about Philip's wife Katrina and her desperate need for a lung donor.

"Within 24 hours of airing we got over fifty people that want to be a donor,"Philip said.

Katrina suffers from cystic fibrosis, a disease that causes a sticky mucus to build up in a person's lungs. 

Katrina needs a double lung transplant within about two weeks or it'll be too late to save her life.

She already has a solid donor match for one lung, but she needs one more donor to give a lobe for the second lung.  Philip is amazed that strangers are willing to sacrifice their body for his wife's survival.

"It's a major surgery and anytime you have a major surgery, it's serious,"Philip said.

It's been extremely difficult to find donors for Katrina because she suffers from a blood issue that makes her compatible with only about 17 percent of the population.

But a woman came forward over the weekend who could be the match for the second lung donation.

"There's not enough words to say thank you, there's just no way to be able to do that,"Philip said with gratitude to all the people who have offered a lobe of their lungs.

But the search for the second donor is still not over just yet.  The woman who came forward must still go through a battery of tests to see if she is a DNA match for Katrina.

Philip is hoping more people volunteer just in case the second donor doesn't work out.

If a second donor match is found Katrina will immediately be airlifted from Thornton Hospital in La Jolla to USC where doctors will perform the double transplant.

Katrina is currently unconscious and on a ventilator.

The surgery could happen as early as  Wednesday if all goes well, and NBCSanDiego will be following the developments very closely.

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