SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Hartford area woman is recovering in Minneapolis after having a double lung transplant earlier this month. To help with some of the expenses, a Sioux Falls pizzeria will host a benefit this weekend.
64-year-old Deb Bender was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, or IPF, in 2015.
“Her lung tissue is hardening and becoming scar tissue, and it has basically made it so Deb can’t live normal life today. Always had oxygen, and has progression has gone since then, more and more oxygen, uses a scooter,” friend Carol Burke said.
Bender saw a transplant doctor in Minneapolis in January. Those close to her say the disease has gotten worse since then.
“The less oxygen she takes in, the less carbon dioxide she expels, so basically it’s like almost poisoning her inside, poisoning her blood. She can’t breathe well at all,” Burke said.
On May 7, Bender’s birthday, she received a gift like no other.
“They had a set of lungs and they felt they were viable and able to use,” Burke said.
“She is like a transplant rockstar. I keep telling her that. She was off the ventilator within 48 hours, which is very rare. She was out of ICU after four days, another rare thing. She’s got her tubes out, she’s walking down the hall now,” Bender’s daughter Heather Foster said.
Now that Bender is on the mend, friends, family and Josiah Urban, who’s the owner of the Pizza Shop near the mall, are coming together Sunday for a breakfast benefit with the proceeds including all sales and tips going toward additional medical-related expenses.
“It’s amazing. Basically, you’re giving my mom the gift of life. She was at the point of her CO2 levels in her lungs were in the upper 90s, and basically, you have months to live at that point,” Burke said.
And once she recovers, Bender will be able to spend more time with family, especially her grandkids, just like she used to.
Bender will have to stay in the Minneapolis area for a few months for daily checkups and appointments.
The benefit at the Pizza Shop runs from 8:30 to 11 Sunday morning.