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Nursing school is often a challenge, but it can be particularly hard if you need to have a lung transplant during your junior year. Such was the case with Nurse of the Week Brianna Fogelman.

“I had collapsed lungs…I developed pneumonia,” recalls the Delaware thoracic nurse. “I pretty much was on 10 liters of oxygen–the highest; my husband had to wash me up, had to shower me–I couldn’t walk. I remember going to take my final with my chest tube in my chest and going to school with all of that.” Two weeks before her wedding, Fogelman checked in at Johns Hopkins for a lung transplant. “I was dying…they were trying to wait until after my wedding to do my transplant, and in my mind, I’m like ‘oh I’m going to walk down the aisle with my wedding dress and my oxygen on’…I was just unrealistic, and I was just so wrapped up in not believing that I had to have a transplant.”

Fogelman had her operation in June 2019 and returned to school for her senior year in August. Then, after graduation she had a brilliant interview and was hired on the spot for her dream job: she is now working as a thoracic nurse at the hospital where she had had her lifesaving operation, Johns Hopkins. Fogelman was delighted. “They kind of saw how I was struggling and how I was so determined to finish school on time; I guess I kind of gained their respect that way. Hopkins was pretty much on my side about everything, and they were just really understanding, and they understood that I didn’t want to sulk. Whatever happened, I wanted to be grateful; I wanted to live and I wanted to live my life, so they just backed me 100%.”

As she works with her patients on the Hopkins thoracic ward, Fogelman tries to instill them with her positive attitude: “When you are able to get a second chance at life, it’s like you have a different meaning and a different vision about life and about what matters and what doesn’t matter. Even if you’re in a difficult situation–like me–declining very rapidly, not knowing if you’re going to live the next day…get rooted in something that will keep you going, get rooted in something that will bring support…just make sure you try to have a positive attitude no matter how hard things get.”

For more on Breanna Fogelman’s story, visit

Koren Thomas
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