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Rachelle Needs Your Help

My wife, Rachelle Ledbetter, has been suffering from pulmonary problems since she was a child. Eight years ago, she was diagnosed with severe Bronchiectasis. Her doctors have told us that her only option now is a life-saving lung transplant.

Updates (34)

June 10, 2020

For the first time in ten years, in celebration of my birthday month, I went white water rafting!! When Meaghan Skye Swinney suggested the idea, I didn’t think twice-YES! Why not? Maybe because I have a large oxygen tank that must accompany me. What if I fell in? Or my tank ran out of O2. Or fell on the trail. Or…..
Our guide, Don, along with Meaghan and Steven, were on high alert, cautioning me when we approached the rapids, getting me safely in and out of a raft, and ensuring a good time for the birthday girl.
Though it’s the end of rafting season and the water is low, it was perfection. A beautiful day, clear water, excitement at ‘Tubers Revenge’, ‘Devil’s Eyeball’, ‘Golf Course rapid’, and ‘don’t hit that tree’, and the adrenaline rush of engaging in an outdoor adventure I may never had done while on the transplant list. I proved that disabilities don’t have to stop us from enjoying life.
On to the next celebration! #JustBreathe #mindblowing #gratitude #nevertakelifeforgranted

June 4, 2020

What a ‘dry run’ it’s been…..
A ‘dry run’ in transplant language is a practice run, yielding a ‘no go.’
I experienced my first dry run last Monday morning. After 3 1/2 years on the double lung transplant list at UCSF, the call came Sunday, 7 pm: “We may have a pair of lungs for you.” Detailing the possibilities of what may happen, in a very calm, unhurried voice, Heather, someone I’ve never met, asked if I wanted to accept. What may seem like a no brainer, during the COVID pandemic, it’s a valid question. One third of those listed for double lungs at UCSF, decided to go off the list temporarily when COVID exploded. After a longer than average wait for this unfathomable offer, it was a resounding Yes Please.
Steven and I were in the car within an hour, on our way to a huge unknown. By the grace of God, our daughters were with us when the call came, a rare occasion due to self isolation. After hearing the instructions that Heather gave us, Meaghan and Sierra jumped into preparation mode, as I was in shock and experiencing shortness of breath, more than usual. They packed my bag, ten oxygen tanks loaded into the car (each lasts about 1 1/2 hours), made coffee, and kept me calm.
On the road by 9 pm, we arrived in record time at the hospital center. As Steven dropped me off, we experienced an intensity of emotion reflected on our faces, in the lengthy embrace and parting kiss. We weren’t quite ready for this moment. Due to new restrictions resulting from the pandemic, I was going solo. Without my rock, my comforter, my beloved. He would either see me in two weeks after I left ICU, or possibly not at all if the surgery was unsuccessful. I wouldn’t have his hand to hold onto, and he was in a city with no family or support.
Upon admission, tests were done: X-ray, lots of blood work, and a COVID swab. A consultation with a doctor about various outcomes had me nodding my head in understanding at 3 am, sleep deprived but running on adrenaline. Dozing off shortly after with the expectation of surgery scheduled for 1 pm, I was awoken by a doctor apologetically telling me it wasn’t a match.
As this pronouncement sunk it, I wasn’t disappointed, but strangely at peace. So many thoughts and emotions swirling around in my foggy mind. Why was I experiencing this relief, having waited so long, gone through multiple hospitalizations, self isolating before it became universal, and basically years of feeling frail, sickly and imprisoned in a body that screamed for normality? Grateful? Why?
I realized our family needed this practice run. We’d become complacent in our long wait. For 2 1/2 years my suitcase had been packed and ready to go in five minutes when the ‘call’ came. Eventually, the wait was eternal, the suitcase emptied.
My carefully prepared list of people to contact had disappeared, as had the file with hotel/lodging information and ‘what to do pre and post transplant.’ Since the pandemic has affected the medical field greatly, a plan for Steven, in the two weeks following surgery had to be throughly re-vamped. And honestly, I needed to wrap my head around the gift of new lungs actually being a viable offer. My name had not fallen through the cracks; my high level of antigens just made me a difficult match. By accepting this first offer, I had shown a willingness to drive four hours in the middle of the night, during a pandemic that could result in death.
After an incredible hospital lunch chosen from a diverse menu with multiple vegetarian options, (Casa Kaweah, you need to up your game! ) my somewhat groggy but stalwart love of 34+ years, picked me up at the hospital curb, with a look of love and gratitude. Driving home, we had a planning session, ready to place new revisions to our outdated transplant instructions.
So now we wait….again….for the next offer of perfect lungs. It’ll happen. God’s perfect timing. In the meantime WOW!! The outpouring of love, calls, texts, prayers and financial support has been overwhelming! Our family is humbled. Your presence in our lives make this long journey palpable. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. #stillwaitingfornewlungs #somedayperfectlungswillcome #itdoestakeavillage #justbreathe #Hisplannotmine

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June 7, 2019

We love you Rachelle! Happy birthday!!!! Here’s to many more, breathing with ease

Kathleen Seligman

March 13, 2017

We'll be thinking of you and praying for you each and every day. Keep the faith!

Jim and Peggy Entz

March 11, 2017

Rachelle, we are here for you! My heart is glad to help you. Your friends from Lemon Cove.

Teri and Ralph Blaser

January 14, 2017

One of my favorite sounds is to hear your unique laughter (however subtle) in the back during church. You are distinct, transparent and so endearing to my family and to our church family. You have encouraged our growth with your childlike fervor to grow in your faith. Our hearts are full with love and hope for your healthy future.

Robin Castro