'Boston Med' Episode 1: Double Lung Transplant

"We really just need to get these things out and get home," DiBardino said at the donor hospital. "Now it's really about getting these things out the fastest and getting on the plane and getting the hell out of here, and get them sewn into the recipient as fast as we can. So we've got two good lungs for two patients."

DiBardino removed the lungs from the donor and got back on the plane.

"Everything we've done, we spent the last 12 hours preparing for this, we're on a clock, we have to get them back within the next four hours," he said. "It's not negotiable."

When DiBardino arrived back at Brigham and Women's Hospital, his colleagues flew into action. Two operating rooms had been prepared. Bishop and White were already anesthetized. Jacklitch and Camp were among the senior surgeons performing the transplants.

Both transplants were a success.

Long Wait for a Lung

Maureen Bishop's new lung arrived three years to the day after she was listed for a left lung transplant.

"This journey was a long journey," she said. "I'm going to fight to stand up and breathe again and do the simple things in life."

Camp said that although emphysema patients can live without a transplant, their quality of life is poor. The disease is a slow process of destruction, and the breakdown of the lungs over time can be emotionally frustrating.

"With emphysema, you can live a long life, but aren't living life," Camp said. "With a transplant, you are making the decision to reclaim your life. Because without it, you can't move much."

Each year, doctors perform 1,700 to 2,100 lung transplants in the United States. That number would be higher, if not for the primary limiting factor: a lack of donors.

After the Surgeries

The outcome of a surgery is judged on factors beyond survival. These factors include quality of life, physiological changes and cost.

The average survival of transplant recipients who receive a single lung is 4.4 years. Double lung recipients live an average of 5.7 years after surgery -- although the underlying disease and the patient's age can move the number either way.

Now 15 months since her transplant, Maureen Bishop is climbing stairs, making her bed and going grocery shopping all on her own.

"I can do everything but climb a mountain," she said.

Bishop said it has become easier for her to enjoy the company of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She attends rehab three times a week.

For her part, Mary Ann White said she is back to her old self again, after years of not being able to manage the simplest of tasks on her own. She was able to return to walking, taking trips to the shore with her husband and spending time with her grandchildren.

White even intends to get a part-time job in a local gift shop, she said.

Watch the full story of Maureen Bishop and Mary Ann White's lung transplants tonight on "Boston Med" at 10 p.m. ET

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