New Lungs, New Life: Tempe man cherishes the great outdoors after lifesaving lung transplant

Yvonne and Kent Crudup with dog PilotIn the last two years, Kent Crudup, 65, has traveled to more than a half-dozen National Parks, cruised the Caribbean and spent Christmas in Kauai—none of which seemed remotely possible in 2015 when the San Francisco Bay-native was too breathless to get out of bed.

His health issues seemed to come out of nowhere, starting with a nagging cough. At first, doctors weren’t alarmed, because Kent was in excellent health overall. Aside from leading a successful business career, he had spent his pastime exploring the great outdoors though hiking and camping with his wife, Yvonne, and their twin sons, Alex and Mark, now in their early 30s.

When the cough worsened, though, Kent underwent testing that revealed he had pulmonary fibrosis, a rare disease that leads to scarring of the lungs and major breathing difficulties. Before long, he was transported to Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, where he would begin the fight of his life.

St. Joseph’s is home to Norton Thoracic Institute, which is ranked among the nation’s leading lung transplant centers. Kent experienced firsthand the lifesaving care offered here during his visit to the hospital in 2015. As his condition progressed rapidly to respiratory failure, Kent’s name was added to the national donor list for lung transplantation. Although patients at other medical facilities typically wait upwards of four weeks to receive a call that donor lungs have been made available, NTI patients are often matched in less than half that time, even faster for cases like Kent’s.Yvonne and Kent Crudup

“I went from being added to the national transplant list to being pushed to the top within two days,” says Kent. “I was only hours away from meeting my maker when the matching donor lungs arrived.” 

Now, three years post-transplant, Kent is living from one adventure to the next. He and Yvonne are equally grateful to the organ donor who blessed him with new lungs as they are to the caregivers at Norton Thoracic Institute. As such, they have made numerous donations to the hospital to express their gratitude as well as to ensure other patients receive the same level of care.

“We’ve had a chance to see the work that St. Joseph’s doctors, nurses and support team are doing and wanted to participate by giving back,” says Kent, before adding that their donations are nothing compared to the lifesaving care he has received.  “I’m the luckiest person on earth!” he claims.