Father Raises Awareness of Organ Donation After UCSF Lung Transplant Saves Daughter

By Juliana Bunim on April 06, 2011

When Brian Dowling’s daughter Clare was diagnosed with pulmonary veno-occlusive disease, an extremely rare form of high blood pressure in the lung area, his family turned to the expertise of UCSF's transplant team for treatment.

While waiting for a lung donor to be found, Clare's condition deteriorated from shortness of breath to being placed on a mechanical ventilator at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Her situation was dire.

Fortunately, the California Transplant Donor Network was able to find a donor in time for UCSF's lung transplant team, ranked among the top 10 percent in the world for volume of procedures performed, to deliver the life-saving care.

Clare spent five months in the intensive care unit following her transplant on Aug. 26, 2010, working with her team of cardiovascular surgeons, pulmonologists, nurses and physical therapists to safely recover and manage her lung disease. 

At UCSF, each tranplant candidate is carefully evaluated by a multidisciplinary team that include transplant surgeons, gastroenterologists, nephrologists, hepatologists, infectious disease specialists, social workers and other health professionals. Patients receive state-of-the-art care for this highly complex procedure and have intensive long-term follow up.

“If I had one word to describe the care at UCSF, it would be ‘magnificent,” said Dowling. “We were extraordinarily impressed with the quality of care, the sense of urgency associated with Clare’s disease, and the sense of respect and kindness and we were all treated with.

What impressed me about the UCSF team working with us was how they work in concert to tackle problems, bringing all of the best together from different disciplines all focused on how to approach the problems and make Clare better. It was a source of great comfort during a time of great suffering for the family.”

Clare recently celebrated the six-month anniversary of her transplant and marked a significant milestone on April 2 when she walked unassisted by a walker for the first time. “It was a big day and she’s gaining strength and getting better each day,” said Dowling.

Dowling, the vice president of Public Affairs at Safeway, was prompted to tell Clare's dramatic story in a video to raise awareness for organ donation among the grocery store's network of 180,000 employees and the public at large.