Many people have suffered from diseases that literally take their breath away. The book, Second Wind: Oral Histories of Lung Transplant Survivors, relates the compelling stories of “ordinary” Americans who sought a second chance through lung transplantation and the historical and socio-medical factors that affected them. Excerpts from oral history interviews reveal the physical and psychological challenges of deciding to pursue a transplant, waiting for a donor organ, and adapting to a new life with a lung from someone who died.
Organ transplantation is unlike most other medical procedures: its key component (a useable human organ) is incredibly rare, and this scarcity has led to many social, ethical, and legal issues, which have played out in hospitals, popular media, and the halls of Congress.
Second Wind uses both oral and conventional historical methods to describe and analyze the history of lung transplantation in the U.S. While drawing on accounts from doctors and other specialists, the book primarily focuses on the experiences of patients, following them through the process of deterioration from their disease, evaluation for a transplant, the often agonizing wait to be called, and the postoperative period in which the dangers of infection and rejection hover and psychological issues are difficult.
Through the words of patients who have received lung transplants, Second Wind explores themes of uncertainty, timing, identity, coping, and quality of life and is meaningful for those facing transplantation, their caregivers, scholars, and people outside the transplant community.