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‘These aren’t my lungs that are helping me sing’: 14-year-old Iowa girl adjusts to life after lung transplant

By Quanecia Fraser

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    WOODBINE, Iowa (KETV) — KETV Newswatch 7 first brought you Katie Hoskins’ story last fall. At the time, the 14-year-old was diagnosed with Pulmonary Veno-Occlusive Disease (PVOD), which made her need a lung transplant.

“I don’t want to look back on my life and regret things that I didn’t do,” Katie said in her hospital bed, back in October 2022.

The next week after that story aired, Hoskins was able to find a donor and quickly had the surgery done.

While she waited, she said her faith got her through it.

“God is gonna help me, and I trust what he’s going to do with me. Whether it’s I’m not going to get a transplant and I get to go home or, I get a transplant and I get to keep living,” Katie said about her mentality at the time.

Katie ended up getting the lung transplant, having to travel all the way to Texas. The days that came after were anything but easy.

“In the first few days afterwards, we even have video of them doing an occupational therapy with her and having her sing, one note, trying to hold a note, because like I said, she would have to take a breath every second or so, and trying to get her to hold a note,” her mother Vera said. “And just the amazement in all of us watching it, and she was crying because it felt hard. And when she first was speaking right after the transplant within the 24 hours of the transplant, she would say one word and have to take a breath and say one word and have to take a breath.”

Vera said doctors told her that shortness of breath was expected after the transplant. Katie also had to undergo several tests to make sure everything went well.

“They did swallow studies and all sorts of things just to make sure she wasn’t aspirating things she was drinking,” Vera said.

Katie spent two weeks in the hospital but still had to stay in Texas for another three months before she could come back home.

“During those three months, she had appointments four days a week, most of them were physical therapy, some of them were doctors appointments, some of them were labs,” Vera said.

Flash forward to today, she’s adjusting to a new life with new lungs. She spends two days a week in physical therapy at the CHI Health Clinic in Woodbine, Iowa.

Along with having to take multiple medications every day, she has to wear a mask in public and avoid crowded places.

“There are a lot of places where I have to tell her she can’t go– because there’s too many people– and it’s just not safe,” Vera said. “Like, if she catches a standard cold, it could end up going into her chest and giving her a lung infection which can be life-threatening for her.”

Katie is aware of another harsh reality: Doctors only expect her to live six to 10 years.

The 14-year-old loves to sing. And when you listen to her sing, you’ll hear a voice that’s hard to ignore.

“I just thank God every single day and night, like ‘thank you and please never take away my voice because that’s my one gift that I can give to others,'” Katie said.

Katie and Vera are also immensely grateful for the donor whose lungs literally gave Katie the life she now has.

“I hope that someday, the family who lost someone gets to hear her sing. And know that the breath in those lungs – the breath that can make the most beautiful notes I ever heard – is a gift from their family member,” Vera said.

Vera said the family is working on adding on to their home in Soldier, Iowa, so that Katie can get her own room. If any of Katie’s siblings get sick, she won’t be able to share a room with them. The family has a GoFundMe to help raise money for that project:

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