For Rebecca Martello Poole, a 2000 graduate of the Diagnostic Genetic Sciences Program in the Department of Allied Health Sciences, genetic diseases are not just a professional concern. Rebecca was diagnosed at the age of six months with cystic fibrosis (CF) and has suffered from the debilitating effects throughout her life.
Rebecca met her husband Ray Poole, also a 2000 UConn graduate, in mechanical and materials engineering, while at UConn, and the two moved from Connecticut to Wisconsin, then Kentucky, where they currently make their home. Together they’ve traveled a harrowing path between life and death as Rebecca spent almost two years enduring medical procedures. It started in October of 2014 during a weekend visit to Colorado. She fell ill, landing in the hospital, septic and in heart failure, fighting for oxygen. She continued to decline and on New Year’s Eve, she went into respiratory failure and was placed on life support. At that point the doctors told the couple that she was in end stage CF, and time was not on her side.
Rebecca needed a lung transplant but was too sick for the surgery. She was in a chemically-induced coma for six weeks, spent six months on a ventilator and finally grew strong enough to become a lung transplant candidate. After the transplant, she still had to undergo abdominal surgery, then months of recovery that included hours of physical therapy.
Today, Rebecca is almost two years post lung transplant, and while she has her difficult days, she’s feeling better. “It’s amazing to be able to walk or take a small hike and not cough incessantly,” Rebecca says.