KOKOMO, Ind. – A couple in Kokomo found new love while getting new lungs.
Three years ago Krystal Shaffer entered the pulmonary rehab program at Community Howard Specialty Hospital. Don Smith joined the program a little over a year later. When they met, they both had failing lungs and a common goal—become eligible for lung transplants.
Twice a week, month after month the two exercised and worked out beside each other at the rehab hospital in Kokomo. They were working to meet fitness and other eligibility requirements to be added to the transplant list.
The strangers soon became friends, and they encouraged each other to continue working toward a successful transplant.
Last year, Smith’s wife passed away on Christmas Eve. Shaffer continued to encourage him to ensure there would be not setbacks.
On Easter Sunday, Smith had a successful transplant surgery. When he returned to the familiar room at the Specialty Hospital seven weeks later to begin his post-transplant therapy, it was his turn to support Shaffer while she continued to work to become eligible for a transplant.
With her health failing last summer, she got the call she’d been waiting for and underwent a successful double lung transplant on August 10.
But the two found more than life after their transplants. They also found love.
In the pulmonary rehab room at Community Howard Specialty Hospital where they first met and in front of the staff that guided them on their rehab journey, Smith proposed to Shaffer and she said yes.