TALLMADGE — The third time is the charm for a Tallmadge Middle School student who needed a double lung transplant and finally received one in June after two previous attempts.
Recovery will be slow and residents can encourage Mark Frick, 13, with cards and letters to: Mark Frick, Ronald McDonald House, 451 44th St., Apt. #707, Pittsburgh, PA 15201.
Mark had been bound to an oxygen tank fighting for each breath as he waited for a lung transplant. He was put on the active transplant list in May 2016, but two previous transplants in 2016 and 2017 were canceled because the lungs were not suitable.
Then on June 20, the transplant team in Pittsburgh’s called Mark’s parents, Terrace Teter and Wayne Frick, at 5 a.m. and said organs were available for the double lung transplant. Mark had a successful surgery with both lungs in shortly after midnight.
Mark’s recovery is expected to last from three to six months, and he will be on drugs for the rest of his life to prevent his body from rejecting the new lungs. He also would be at a higher risk of infection.
Mark is already showing progress, according to his Facebook page, The Power of Mark, which has chronicled his journey before and after the transplant, along with Teddy and Super Teddy, who keep Mark company.
On a June 24 Facebook post, Mark’s parents wrote, "The doctors and nurses keep saying how great he’s doing and how strong he is! They said the we did a great job keeping him healthy and strong coming into transplant which is why he’s doing so good. He’s also doing so amazing because of the awesome team of doctors and nurses here at Pittsburgh children’s hospital. None of Mark’s accomplishments would be happening if it wasn’t for one special person who donated their lungs so that my son will have a chance to live a better quality of life."
Mark’s journey began in the spring of 2007 when he was 15 months old and diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He underwent a successful bone marrow transplant with his older sister, Brittani, serving as his donor; however, shortly afterward, Mark developed breathing issues. He was diagnosed with Obliterative Bronchiolitis, a side effect of the chemotherapy he’d received, according to his mother.
As Mark grew, his lungs had to work harder, and he spent twice as long recuperating from an activity than doing it.
To keep Mark healthy for the transplant, he used a laptop for schooling and received home tutoring.
With transplant-related expenses expected to exceed $50,000, Mark’s family has turned to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), a national charity based in Bloomington, Indiana, for help. Those interested in helping can visit The Power of Mark Facebook page.
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.