Oceanside Woman Dies Before Lung Transplant

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Donor Steps Up to Help Lung Transplant Patient

    Shortly after 2.p.m. on Thursday Katrina Howell's fight to stay alive came to an end in the ICU at Thornton Hospital in La Jolla.

    Her husband Philip and other family members including her parents could only stand by and watch helplessly as she passed away from kidney complications.

    Donor Steps Up to Help Lung Transplant Patient

    [DGO] Donor Steps Up to Help Lung Transplant Patient
    A 41 year old North County woman in need of a double lung transplant within the next two weeks is offered a lung from a donor. Tony Shin reports. (Published Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011)

    "I don't know what to say, it is devastating,"Philip told NBCSanDiego.  "I want to thank all the people who came forward and wanted to donate to Katrina."

    Katrina,41, suffered from cystic fibrosis, a disease that causes a sticky mucus to fill a person's lungs.

    The Oceanside resident needed a double lung transplant and for months her family tried to find donors to give a lobe of their lungs to help her.

    But there was a major problem, Katrina was only compatible with about 17 percent of the population because she suffered from a blood issue.

    Using Facebook to help search for a matching donor, her family was able to find one person who could give a lobe of their lungs.

    Last week Katrina had to be put on a ventilator, meaning she had to get another donor within two weeks or her body would eventually shut down.

    After NBCSanDiego aired Katrina's desperate search for a second donor, Philip says about 50 people came forward offering to donate a portion of their lung.

    "Four of them were exact matches,"Philip said.  The plan was to airlift Katrina to USC for the surgery once all the testing was done.

    "She tried so hard to make it, she really wanted to live,"said Katrina's step-sister Tamara Pohlman-Chow.  "Her body just couldn't do it."

    On Sunday, Katrina turned 41 years old.  Philip, who also had a double lung transplant because of cystic fibrosis, said his wife always had a wonderful sense of humor.

    "Right before they put her under, she told the doctors she'd be really angry at them if she didn't wake up,"Philip said last week.  "She was really hoping to live."

    The family is planning a memorial for Katrina next week.  Her organs are being donated to others who need them.  Her damaged lungs are also being donated for scientific research so doctors can hopefully find a cure for cystic fibrosis.