Transplant Type: Double Lung and Kidney
What if you were living on borrowed time?
Walker continues to fight for his life. On March 8, 2019, he was sent to the emergency room experiencing symptoms of fever, difficulty breathing, nausea, and vomiting. He was admitted to the ICU later that day after a chest x-ray confirmed a bad case of pneumonia. After multiple tests over the next several days, this 19 yr. old athlete who was only 2 months into a promising cheer and volleyball career at FAU, was found to be suffering from several viruses including adenovirus, Epstein Barr, and strep A. His condition worsened over the next five days and developed into a severe case of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). He was then emergently transferred from the Oviedo Medical Center to the ICU at ORMC where they did everything known to medicine before reluctantly intubating him late Saturday afternoon March 16th. By early Sunday afternoon his lungs were collapsing and death was imminent. In a last minute effort to save his young life, Walker was airlifted to Advent Health and placed on veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VV ECMO), the most extreme form of life support available.
Walker spent four months in ICU care at Advent Health, including surviving a harrowing sixty-three days on VV ECMO. His will to live is tremendous. After four chest tubes, a tracheostomy, gall bladder removal, and kidney failure, Walker was able to be safely discharged home to his family. His official diagnosis is necrotizing pneumonia and kidney failure, though his parents learned he had been vaping for 3 months prior. Doctors believe this put huge stress on his lungs and is an underlying factor in the severity of his condition. He remains on nightly dialysis treatments and lives with an oxygenator constantly.
Doctors say a double lung and kidney transplant are critical to his survival and told him on February 17, 2021 that he had 18 months to live if he does not get the transplants.
Even so, during this unbelievably challenging time, Walker is very thankful to God for such an amazing group of family and friends that has helped him and his family in countless ways already. He wishes they didn’t have to be so concerned about his health, but he is grateful for their love and support. Before his health turned critical, Walker was enjoying his first semester of college, hanging with new friends, loving the FAU Boca Raton campus, playing on the volleyball team, and prepping for his first cheerleading tryouts. Walker looks forward to the transplant that will allow him to feel “normal” again. He has his whole life ahead of him and plans to take advantage of all that it has to offer.
Fortunately, there is hope for a new life for Walker through lifesaving transplants that come at an extremely high price.
The average lung transplant costs approximately $929,000. And that’s only the beginning. Walker needs both lungs and a kidney. Even with health insurance, which will cover a portion of the transplant costs, he faces significant expenses related to the surgery. For the rest of his life, he will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications. Post-transplant medications are very expensive, and they’re as critical to his survival as the transplant itself. When he receives his transplant, Walker and his caregiver may need to stay near the hospital, during recovery, adding to the financial strain.
You can help by making a tax-deductible donation to the National Foundation for Transplants in honor of Walker.
If you'd prefer to send your gift by mail, please send it to the NFT Florida Transplant Fund, 3249 W. Sarazen’s Circle, Suite 100, Memphis, TN 38125. Please be sure to write "in honor of Walker McKnight” in the memo line.
Thank you for your generosity!
Transplant Center: Advent Health