MARIETTA - When Jane McCullors, 48, of Belpre received a double lung transplant at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center - Presbyterian (UPMC) on Sept. 5, 2011, she considered herself fortunate in more ways than one.
"The support I received from friends, family and what I call my Pittsburgh family has been amazing and so helpful in my recovery," said McCullors.
Now, McCullors is paying that support forward.
She has formed the Transplant Care Support Group, a local support group for pre- and post-transplant patients and their caregivers. The group's first meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at Redwood Restaurant, 2813 Washington Blvd., Belpre. The group plans monthly meetings.
"I wanted to be able to give back to others," said McCullors.
McCullors said she sees the support group as an "information exchange" for those in any part of the transplant process.
If You Go
What: Transplant Care Support Group.
When: 6 p.m. Aug. 17.
Where: Redwood Restaurant, 2813 Washington Blvd., Belpre.
For information: Jane McCullors, (740) 350-3018 or email@example.com
"There's a need for information from people who have been through, going through or had to wait for a transplant," she said.
The Transplant Care Support Group will be open to those with all types of transplants.
"My ultimate hope is that (members) might want to break off into separate groups," depending on their type of transplants, McCullors said.
For support group members in the pre-transplant phase, other members can lend an understanding ear.
"It's scary when you're thinking about having a major organ removed and somebody else's put in," said McCullors. "Sometimes there's a living donor, and you're waiting for someone's life to end."
McCullors said members can help others in the group to better understand the pre-transplant process by sharing information about medications, transplant costs and insurance benefits. In addition, members can remind pre-transplant patients to take better care of themselves by keeping their minds active and their stress levels down.
Support after a transplant is also important, McCullors said.
"When you have a transplant you exchange one issue for other issues," she said. "You have strict medicine guidelines. You have to watch what to eat and who you're around to protect your immune system."
The temptation to do too much too soon can be great, she said.
"Suddenly you feel so much better and you want to go and do. You have to learn to pace yourself differently," McCullors said.
Caregivers will also play a key role in the support group, she said.
"Caregivers are involved in a transplant almost as much as the patient," according to McCullors.
Zetta Weaver of Marietta, 50, is a caregiver for her husband, Roger Weaver, 60, of Marietta. He spent 12 weeks at UPMC - Presbyterian after a double lung transplant on April 20.
"(Staff) said he would be there three weeks," she said. "(The support group could have told us) what to expect besides the best-case scenario."
Judith Boggs of Greensboro, N.C., 58, is one of McCullors' primary caregivers.
Caregivers can also help with the "ups and downs that come post transplant, both medical and emotional," she said.
For information about the Transplant Care Support Group, contact Jane McCullors at (740) 350-3018 or firstname.lastname@example.org.