By Kristen M. Daum
A phone rang Saturday afternoon in St. Louis. It brought good news, a pair of lungs was
finally available for 19-year-old Bradley Davis of Tuttle.
His day had arrived after a three-month wait in an apartment more than 500 miles from family and friends.
Davis was born three months premature and lived the first nine months of his life on a ventilator.
He had previously undergone 20 surgeries to deal with various health problems stemming from his early birth — from his back, to his lungs, to his stomach.
On Saturday, Davis underwent his 21st successful surgery: a double-lung transplant.
"After every other surgery, when he had bad lungs, no one thought he'd do well,” his mother, Teresa Davis, said Monday afternoon. "This'll be just a breeze for him.”
Teresa Davis initially thought she was dreaming when she received the phone call about the transplant from St. Louis Children's Hospital about 2 p.m. Saturday.
Teresa and Bradley Davis scrambled some belongings together and rushed over to prepare for surgery.
Meanwhile, Davis' father, sister and brother-in-law left their jobs in Arkansas and Oklahoma and arrived in St. Louis less than an hour before Davis' operation.
Davis' family waited anxiously for 9 1/2 hours as he went through the risky and invasive operation. Doctors came out every hour to inform them of Davis' progress.
Doctors took Davis off sedatives Monday, about 36 hours after his surgery, to see how well he'd breathe on a ventilator with the hope that he might breathe completely on his own by today, Teresa Davis said.
Nearly a month ago, Teresa and Bradley Davis told The Oklahoman how they were passing the time in their St. Louis apartment, waiting for that one phone call.
Bradley Davis was profiled by The Oklahoman along with Jordan Ulrich, 17, who received a double-lung transplant in May, and Haley Palmer, who died in June while she waited for her own double-lung transplant.
"Just getting here and waiting — that's one of the hardest things,” Teresa Davis said Monday. "I think the next three months will be easy.”
Davis must stay in St. Louis until early October in case there are any post-operative problems. Issues such as infection and rejection are common with lung transplants.
But Davis has at least one outside motivator to become healthy enough to return to Oklahoma in October: his sister is due to have her first baby Oct. 12 — giving Davis his first niece or nephew.
"He's still just the happy little guy he was when he left (Oklahoma),” Teresa Davis said. "He's just smiling as much as he can, even with that tube down his throat.”
*Online subscription may be required.