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A Match Made in Pulmonary Rehab

Couple meets, falls in love and gets married after bonding over cystic fibrosis and organ donation.

February 14, 2019 2:44 pm

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In April 2012, Josh Reynolds was recovering from a life-saving double lung transplant after suffering with cystic fibrosis for most of his life.

“I do remember waking up and breathing and it was the oddest sensation to not struggle,” said Reynolds.

He began pulmonary rehabilitation with a goal to strengthen his body post-transplant, but he came out of it with much more than his strength.

That same year Madeline Deveney was struggling with cystic fibrosis and would later be listed for a double lung transplant. Her doctors directed her to pulmonary rehab to help prepare her for the transplant.

The two met and quickly became friends. But the first year after transplant a patient is highly immune suppressed so it’s important to take extra precautions to not contract a virus.

“He was kind of like a sounding board for me. But at the time he was so newly off transplant and I still had my CF lungs that we would have to stand at opposite ends of his car out in the parking lot after we worked out to talk just because I was  still culturing bacteria that could potentially be a problem for him,” said Deveney.

It’s been more than six years since those conversations began. Their shared experiences of living through cystic fibrosis and double lung transplants helped create a special bond that ultimately would turn into a loving relationship. Both are now healthy post-transplant and enjoy hiking alongside Madeline’s service dog with a goal to summit Mount Rainier in Washington someday.

“One of the amazing things after transplant is I would go walking somewhere that I would walk when I had my CF lungs and I’ll remember when I had to struggle and now I just breeze through it. It’s absolutely amazing,” said Deveney.

Madeline and Josh, both grateful for their second chances at life, wed in front of family and friends on September 8, 2018 and during their handwritten vows they both thanked two very important people that they’ve never met, their donors.

“We wouldn’t have been standing there if those people hadn’t saved our lives. I mean it’s literally through not only CF but organ donation that I was able to meet Josh,” said Deveney.

“We wouldn’t be the people we are today if it wasn’t for CF and then transplant,” said Reynolds.

February 14 is a day to celebrate perfect matches, whether they are through love or organ and tissue donation.

Each year thousands of people across the country recognize February 14 as National Donor Day. It is a day to recognize loved ones who have given the gift of donation, have received a donation, are currently waiting or did not receive an organ in time. This National Donor Day take the time to talk about donation with your loved ones and by participating in donor registration events. One organ donor can save up to eight lives and one tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 75 others. It takes less than 30 seconds to register at donors1.org.