Sandy Cloyd and Claudia McGinness
Co-chairs, Indiana University Health Methodist Heart and Lung Transplant Support Group
Sandy Cloyd and Claudia McGinness often say they’re living “the bonus round of life.”
Both received double lung transplants. Cloyd, 73, had quit smoking 20 years before chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused her to need a transplant in 2006. McGinness, 69, suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and got a transplant in 2008.
Their bonus round has come with renewed energy, new friendship and a dedication to helping others who are facing the same questions and fears they had leading up to and after their life-saving surgeries.
Cloyd remembers how much it meant to her when a volunteer named Sue visited her around the time of her surgery. “I had never met anyone who’d had a transplant. When they told me I needed a transplant, I didn’t even know such a thing existed,” Cloyd said.
Remembering what Sue’s visits meant to her, Cloyd began visiting patients and became active in the heart and lung transplant support group that meets at IU Health Methodist Hospital, where her surgery took place. Before long, she had become chairwoman of the support group, a job that quickly became too much for her to handle. “Claudia was the only one willing to jump in and help me,” Cloyd said.
Thus began a close friendship and working relationship that continues to benefit transplant patients and the medical staff who care for them.
“They’re absolutely phenomenal,” said Dr. David Roe, a lung disease specialist and medical director of IU Health’s lung transplant program. “If you could see everything they do to support patients and their families, you’d understand that they’re just as important to this program as the medical team.”
McGinness was already volunteering in a transplant unit helping the medical staff when she found out Cloyd was visiting patients. She asked if she could help, and now they do most visits together, showing others that double lung transplant patients can survive and thrive.
They also go to the hospital in the wee hours to sit with a family whose loved one is in surgery.
“It doesn’t matter what time, day or night,” McGinness said.
Asked what motivates them to devote so much time to people they don’t know, both women said they volunteer out of gratitude to the families of the donors who gave them a chance to live.
“So far, I’ve had 9-1/2 extra years with my family,” said Cloyd, a widow who has four adult children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. McGinness, who has a husband, three adult children and one grandchild, said that, without her donor, “I never would have known my granddaughter.”•