Lung transplant recipient welcomed home by nurses and family

MARGATE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- "Life's short," said Frank LaVerde. "Unless you get a second chance, which I did."

The 63-year-old adventurer, surfer, and grandfather was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease last year. Already having beaten nasopharyngeal cancer, LaVerde was looking for his spot on an organ donation recipient list.

He became entangled with a three-week battle against COVID-19 around Thanksgiving. But Christmas had something better in store. Temple University Hospital qualified him for a potential lung transplant.

LaVerde got the call in January while he was stationed at Cedar Grove Respiratory and Nursing Care Center in Williamstown, New Jersey. However, no ambulance could make the transport until later that afternoon.

"During all this commotion, these two nurses were getting off shift when they said, you know, we'll just take him in our car," he said. "Thank God they were around, that's all I can tell you."

Ruth Miller and Milissa Eggert were responsible for getting LaVerde to Temple University Hospital on time for a successful lung transplant. They said it was simply the work of a nurse's heart.

"That loved one who's in there is someone's loved one and we're gonna take care of him," said Eggert. "Everything fell into place. It was a blessing that we were able to help him."

Today, Eggert and Miller got to see the fruits of their good deed. They led a drive-by car parade featuring other nurses, family, and friends who wished to welcome LaVerde home.

"I'm home now and it's really nice to be free and breathe on my own," said LaVerde. "I suppose they told me it's going to get stronger and stronger."

LaVerde recently purchased an RV and is looking forward to many adventures around the United States and beyond.

"So, I'll be hanging with the grandkids, surfing, golfing, skiing, out causing trouble sooner than later," he said.

LaVerde said he is deeply grateful for his organ donation and encourages everyone to become an organ donor to save more lives like his own.

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