After a skiing trip in 1989, Eb Thomas felt more out of breath and tired than usual. One year later, he was diagnosed with a rare hereditary disease called Alpha-1, which causes emphysema. His lungs began to deteriorate.
Ten years after his diagnosis, Eb, a Memphis native, turned to Barnes-Jewish Hospital because of our well-known patient care and transplant program. He lived with an oxygen tank back home as he waited for a lung transplant.
Even with the oxygen, everything became increasingly more difficult for Eb—showering, working, and even putting on his socks and shoes were excruciating. Through it all, his wife Myra helped him make it to work every day as the Chief Financial Officer of First Tennessee Bank.
In December 2002, Eb received his new shot at life through a successful lung transplant at Barnes-Jewish. “The day after the transplant I was off the oxygen, and I never went back,” Eb says.
After the transplant, Eb completed a rigorous rehabilitation program at Barnes-Jewish before returning home to enjoy things he couldn’t before, like a round of golf or a tennis match. “I feel younger after the transplant,” says Eb. “There’s very little I would like to do that I can’t. The people, the doctors, everyone was outstanding. It’s unbelievable quality.”
Eb is now helping patients at Barnes-Jewish in two vital ways: as a transplant mentor who shares his story and provides emotional support for others considering transplants, and as a giver. He and Myra established the Eb and Myra Thomas Lung Transplant Fund through The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital
to support the mentor program and to help lung transplant patients who are facing financial difficulties due to their health.
Says Eb, “As a banker, I believe in investing in the best.”
Excerpted from “A Second Chance
” in Giving