Sam Thompson struggled with cystic fibrosis all of his life. He was diagnosed at 9 months was not expected to live to age 16.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. The body produces abnormally thick mucus that coats the walls of the lungs and sticks there like cement. Since it is very difficult to cough up the mucus, it just stays on the walls of the lungs collecting pathogens that then lead to respiratory illnesses like pneumonia. CF patients do not have the ability to absorb fat in their bodies, so maintaining a healthy weight is a struggle.
After numerous hospital stays during his high school years the damage had been done. He tried to go to college but being in that type of environment, he got sick and could not finish. The bouts of pneumonia began to take its toll on Sam. He got down to 79 pounds and needed to be placed on oxygen 24 hours a day. His 21st birthday came and went while he sat on the couch waiting.
He was placed on the lung transplant list and within 6 months received the call. May 22, 2002 – the Transplant Date - was tattooed on his arm along with a black band that honors the donor. He received a double-lung transplant that saved his life. Not without complications that put my brother under the knife multiple times. On the day of Sam's lung transplant, he was getting ready to go in, he told his mother, "If anything happens to me, sell all of my stuff so that Katie (his younger sister) can go to a good college". That's who he was. For a guy who's been through hell and back so many times, his selflessness continued to amaze us all every day. Sam tried to go back to school so that he could become an elementary school teacher. During my brother's time back at school, he experienced chronic rejection of his lungs. His immune system attacked the lungs and he had to undergo a treatment similar to dialysis. His blood was taken out of his body via a pen sized needle in his arm. The blood was then zapped by an ultraviolet light - the goal was to zap the white blood cells so that they would stop attacking the lungs. A temporary fix that wiped out my brother's immune system on top of the immune suppressant drugs he takes for the transplant.
Approaching his 10- year transplant anniversary and having beaten chronic rejection, Sam was diagnosed with stage 3 stomach cancer. He underwent chemo and radiation treatments and surgery to remove the tumor. Sam Thompson – Son, Brother, Uncle and friend- passed away June 7, 2012 at 31 years of age. After his surgery, his body could not recover and complication after complication kept him in Intensive Care for a month. Samuel John Thompson never once in his life said, "poor me" or "why me" or anything. He fought hard and said things like, "just doing what I have to" and "bring it on, I've seen worse". He took everything head on without complaint. We all miss him so much.