Starting the long road of receiving lungs




A Note from Lara

Hello friends!

I figured that since I am sitting around so much, it’s a good time to send out the end of yearnewsletter, after all I have no excuses for not getting this done now, do I?!

So as you all know by now, I got my lung transplant. I received the call on November 4th around 2pm. Craig was at home taking a nap, thank goodness, as it was the last sleep he would get for a while! I was at work, where our technicians were officially starting on A Christmas Carol, and the rest of us were preparing for the first of the actors to arrive the next day. (Well, nobody ever said getting a transplant call would happen at a convenient time, now did they?!)

Craig and I gathered our things, took a taxi to the airport, and there was the plane waiting to take us to the Rockies. (The company for this private jet is called Sanford. They were so nice to us!) It took two hours for the flight, and then another 45 minutes in the ambulance to the hospital (no, they did not turn on the lights or sirens for me.)

Once we got to the hospital the steps toward transplant began. Everything was very calm all the way through. It was strange, in a good way. There was confidence in the air, no doubts, “the lungs look GREAT”, the whole shi-bang...everything was going exactly the way Craig and I had envisioned...except for the fact that Aaron Rodgers got injured during the football game. (Hey, I have to watch my Monday Night Football!) We proceeded forward... We’removing ahead. Yep, this is really happening! They had me give Craig a hug and they wheeled me around the corner. That’s it; anesthesia is taking affect; no going back now! It was midnight, Nov. 5 when they took me back.

The doctor came out to talk to Craig at approx. 10:15 am to tell him everything went well. He also told Craig what horrible shape my old lungs were in; I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say, the timing was right, as CF was kicking my lungs’ butt!

I woke up (and stayed awake) around 6:00pm, though apparently I was doing a lot of

communicating through the day; most of which I don’t remember.
By Wednesday, November 6, I was up and walking. And with that, and many other things going the way they should, I was released from the hospital Monday, November 18. Since then, Craig and I have been in a hotel. I am in the stage of letting my body heal from the surgery, and in near isolation to protect my body from outside world germs during this vulnerable time. We get out for doctor’s appointments and tests 2-3 days a week; we walk the hotel halls for some exercise.

Last Thursday, December 5, I had my first set of breathing tests since the surgery. These tests are called PFT’s (Pulmonary Function Tests); you all have heard me talk about “that magic number” during the campaign – how that number was averaging 25% (my lowest was 22% in February 2012) - well, now was the magic moment...what would my PFT’s be? (Drum roll please)... 76%!!!!! Woot-woot! I haven’t seen that number in over 20 years!

Do you know what’s even better? As my body continues to heal over these next few months, we should see the number get higher. And with that, I can tell you that on the second set of tests, it was 85%! We don’t know how high my lung functions will go yet, of course...but WOW! How did I get so lucky??

So, we are in week three (out of four) of this seclusion stage. As time goes on, there will be more tests to make sure I do not have any bacteria in my new lungs and that I am not rejecting. There will be physical therapy added to the schedule, and I will be allowed to get out in public. They would like Craig and I to stay in Denver for 90 days for the full “hovering” process part of the healing. Assuming all goes the way it should, then we would be able to go back to Omaha. What does that mean then? Well, it depends on my body. TOTAL recovery is 4-12 months. Yes, a broad range. It just depends on the person. But that can also include going back to work; or not for some people. You all know me; I can’t wait to doing what I love to do; and that’s to get back to OCP and the theatre!

I guess that’s all I can say for now. The rest is in the future; we will make sure you all getupdates as they happen.

Fun facts about/from the transplant

  • -  The plane ride from Sanford cost $14,600

  • -  Both lungs were BAD. One was so badly ruined, taking it out added an hour and a half to the surgery process.

  • -  Once they woke me up from the surgery, I didn’t get any sleep for FOUR DAYS.

  • -  Craig said I (repeatedly) was successful in convincing nurses to give me swabs to wet my mouth post-surgery, even though you’re not supposed to have any.

  • -  When I was still half under the anesthesia, I was banging the side of my bed to get people’s attention and using sign language to spell my name because they keptmis-pronouncing it. It’s L-A-R-A!

  • -  I took my first steps almost 24 hours after surgery was complete.

  • -  I am having to re-learn how to cough. (Right now, the muscles won’t support a proper cough – so after ALL these years of constant coughing...)

  • -  My taste buds are out of whack. Things taste differently. Currently, the most horrible tasting things are slices of American cheese, and jolly ranchers. The best tasting item is whole milk!

Why do we still fundraise?...don’t forget:

Don’t forget to donate. This is the time....this time period right now is why we’ve been

fundraising for five years. But many people do not know why I still fundraise.

  • -  The fundraising covers all expenses my insurance does not cover.

  • -  Right now, we are trying to cover two households while we are in Denver.

  • -  Costs are always going up.

  • -  I will have expensive medicines for the rest of my life.

  • -  I will have to make periodic trips to Denver for follow up appointments.

    Unfortunately, we DO need to keep going with the campaign. Please do not forget; I know people have contributed so much already; but I am in this for life. So if you are looking for a donation for Christmas this year, think of this as a home for your dollars. Maybe you are making a donation in someone else’s name? Maybe you feel like giving a little bit extra for the holidays? Maybe you skip that one extra latte or beer; every little bit adds up. Thank you all for allowing me to hound you about something so personal; and continue to allow me to do so.

    Sign up to be an organ donor

    Looking for another way to give back during the holiday season?

  • -  Sign up to be a donor

  • -  Get at least one friend to sign up to be a donor

    People die every day, waiting for organs. When you die, your organs die. Your spirit goes to wherever you believe your spirit goes. But your organs lay in the ground and decompose. Your spirit has already left think about it...wouldn’t your organs be better off helping someone live? Donate today.

    Thank you for your support!

    Not enough can be said to everyone for the support we have had through this process thus far. This is, by far, the hardest thing we will ever do in our lives; the love we have felt from everyone to make it through reminds us every day how important this is to hang tough and make it through. From being plastered all over Facebook, to the newspaper articles, the fundraisers; thank you to all.

    We would be remiss if we didn’t mention some specific folks and what they are doing to help: The first one is more personal: my husband, Craig. How can anyone love someone enough to just drop his life for someone else, including the stress that goes with it, and an outcome that is not guaranteed? Craig is my rock. I couldn’t do this without him. I feel like the luckiest person on the planet to have someone so loving and devoted.

    My mom and step-dad, Sharon, and Charlie, and my Aunt Bonnie and Aunt Bev and cousins in Denver; no-one can do this without their family. Of course the rest of my family too; but these are the folks who have helped through the transplant process, physically here in Denver.

Betsy Scott and Bridget Robbins for making sure my campaign is/has run smoothly to prepare for this time.

John Gibilisco, Pam Felthauser, Pat Kies, and Darrin Golden for various aspects of marketing and press.

Karen Wheatley, Jane Matsui, Brett Nielsen, Nick Masson, Kimberly Much, Betsy Bauer, Matt Walsh, Dana Colagiovanni, and John Rogers for specific fundraising projects.

Carmen Mazza – my mother-in-law, who is watching our house and kitties for us.

Sandi Wilmer Hansen who is Skyping our kitties for us while we are in Denver.

We have a whole team of people helping with snow removal, headed up by Kim Jubenville.

There are so many entities; almost every theatre entity in town, along with the Pizza Shoppe where the cabaret is held every year.

I/We just cannot thank everyone without missing someone. So just; thank you everyone, for going along this journey with us in all aspects.

Final note

From Lara and Craig; thank you for everything you have done so far with the “Places, Please Campaign”. Have a great Christmas/Holiday season/New Year’s; we will keep you updated as Lara continues to go through the recovery process.

Fifth Annual “Sing Your Lungs out for Lara” is asuccess!

For the fifth year in a row, the cast and crew of the Nebraska Theatre Caravan’s “A Christmas Carol” got together to raise money in honor of one of their own. Actors from across the country converged in Benson at The Pizza Shoppe Collective on Saturday, November 16 and raised over $3,000 towards transplant surgery expenses. A big round of applause and thanks goes out to Nick Masson, Matthew Walsh and Dana Colagiovanni for all of their help in organizing this wonderful event, as well as the folks at The Pizza Shoppe Collective and John Rogers for setting up and running sound. Special thanks to Darrin Golden for photographing this year’s cabaret. We have posted several photos on the following page, but you can view them all at


It’s Not Too Late to Donate for 2013

2014 is just around the corner, but it is not too late to give the gift of giving for 2013! There are several ways to make a donation.
  • ?  Make an online donation at

  • ?  Send in a check (a donation form is attached to the email)

  • ?  Check to see if your employer has an Employee Matching Gift Program. Not sure? Visit to search for employees with Employee Matching Gift programs.

Winter Cleaning!!

Got cell phones lying around? Send them to us! Working with COTA, we take your old cell phones and send them in for recycling. As a result, COTA for Lara gets dollars for turning them in. Win- win-win; you get rid of your old junk, COTA gets dollars for the campaign, and we are all helping our environment! Send us your phones today, tell your friends, clean out those drawers!

Send phones to Karen Wheatley in Plattsmouth, NE. Check out the Facebook "Places Please" Effort to Support Lara Marsh page to contact Karen.

Other ways to contact Karen: call her at 402-296-4438 or email her at

Find us on Facebook at “Places Please” Effort to Support Lara Marsh 


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