Transplanted by Allison Watson

In my work as a medical professional, I encounter many patients with transplants: kidney being the most common, followed by liver and lung. In Transplanted, author Allison Watson describes her life with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and her lung’s long, slow decline to the point where only a double-lung transplant can save her life. As of this book, she is four years post-transplant and is doing well.

About 4,100 people in Canada have cystic fibrosis, and many are living longer today, thanks, in part, to transplants.


It is most fascinating to read about how she and her older sister Amy (who has CF too) grew up and how they coped with the disease. They were no stranger to hospitals, and this prepared Allison well for the years ahead when the question of a lung transplant was not if, but when. She is fairly stoic through it all, aside from frequent anxiety attacks particularly before a procedure like a bronchoscopy is performed. Like all good memoirs, Transplanted is candid, particularly in chapter 17, Someone Else’s Lungs Inside of Me:

Personally, I found the weirdest part about the whole experience was the “needing someone to die in order for me to live” part. I found it especially uncomfortable when people said they were praying for me to get lungs because it was difficult not to see that as praying for someone else’s death. […] This is something that I still have to detach myself from emotionally, although I contemplate it from time to time.

I enjoyed reading Transplanted, and if it could be improved (perhaps I should say ‘enhanced’) in any way it would be to have added technical details such as how the lungs are transplanted and even some thoughts from Allison’s family, particularly her partner Isaiah, who stuck with her through it all as to their perspective on Allison’s ordeal. On the whole, this is a solid four-star memoir of a particularly risky surgery and the author’s determination to survive and thrive thereafter, despite what the future may hold. While it is uncommon to add a non-fiction book to the Summer Reads list, I feel that Transplanted would make for a fine read due to its fascinating content and the author’s confident outlook.

“I remain cautiously optimistic for the future and try to take advantage of opportunities that arise because I know too well that life is to be cherished.”

Allison Watson

Transplanted by Allison Watson
Nimbus Publishing

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