In fall 2010, Prep Rally wrote about the travails of Tiffany Tate, the assistant basketball coach and former high school hoops star who was unable to travel with her Seton Catholic (Ariz.) High team when it visited high altitude sites. If everything goes as planned, Tate may be traveling with her team a lot more often as soon as fall 2011.
According to the East Valley Tribune, Tate received a pair of donor lungs on April 13, the result of a long wait on the donor list and vigilant quest to increase cystic fibrosis awareness. The coach was notified that there were two healthy lungs waiting for her on Wednesday morning and had to be in surgery to have them put in by the early afternoon.
One day after the surgery, Tate, who is on the far left in the photo above, was recovering in a Tuscon hospital's ICU and looking forward to a months long process in which she will live near the hospital so she can get immediate aid if any health problems arise around her new lungs. No matter how optimistic things look at the moment, Tate is hardly out of the woods. Even after she is released -- assuming that her body doesn't reject the new organs -- Tate will have years ahead that are filled with pancreatic and anti-rejection medication.
Still, that's a risk that Tate and her family are all too thrilled to take, given her prior harrowing health predicament. The transplant came after years of fundraising, a process which became more frenzied last fall, when the Arizona legislature removed prospective-transplant patients from being eligible for state medical aid. The decision meant that until Tate raised an astounding $277,000 to fund the decision, she would be moved off the transplant waiting list.
Incredibly, Tate and the Seton Catholic community raised $100,000 of that total via a gaggle of charity golf tournaments, school concerts and personal savings and a charity web site set up to help raise awareness and funds for the coach, BenefitforTiffany.com. Then, touchingly, an anonymous donor came forward and offered to pay the remaining $177,000 needed for the procedure.
Tate was back on the list, and shortly thereafter got even better news: The Arizona legislature made a 180 degree switch on its original decision, making Tate eligible for insurance funding of her transplant. The policy shift meant that she could use the $277,000 on paying off post-surgical medical bills and co-pays, which her family had worried would cripple them with debt.
"The timing is amazing," Seton Catholic head coach Karen Self told the Tribune. "There's a whole lot of people who want to play her 1-on-1 in basketball."