Kentucky woman finally gets lung transplants

After months of waiting, the 24-year-old woman who received national attention over her financial and policy battle with Medicare and Medicaid to get lung transplants has new lungs and is resting comfortably in a Pittsburgh hospital, Cheryl Truman reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Katie Prager and her mother, Debra Donavan, left, at UK
Chandler Hospital in April. (Photo: Lexington Herald-Leader)

Katie Prager’s case received national attention because she has cystic fibrosis with a Burkholderia cepacia infection, and only two hospitals in the U.S. are qualified to do lung transplants on such patients. Further complicating matters, Prager’s insurance, a combination of Medicare and Medicaid, considered the hospital that would do her surgery, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, out of network.

“That left Prager sick at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, her only in-network option,” Truman writes.

In April, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center applied to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services for a limited permit to take Prager’s case, which eventually cleared the way for Prager to get her lung transplants.

Prager’s husband, Dalton, had the same condition as his wife, but was able to get a double lung transplant in November 2014 through his parents’ insurance.

Prager, 24, is on a ventilator, but is communicating with a dry-erase board.

“I’m sore, but I’m so, so happy and blessed. God has blessed me so much and I am forever in debt and grateful to my donor and their family,” she wrote.

Debra Donovan said of her daughter: “It’s amazing how well she’s doing. She looks really well. … She just looks beautiful.”

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