ON HER OWN — Diana Shackleton and her father, Keith Smith, independently climb the top of the stairs at Iargo Springs. Shackleton recalled that her father used to have to carry her up the stairs as a child before her bilateral lung transplant. - Photo by Karen RouseIargo Springs climb celebrates gift of life for Oscoda woman
by Karen Rouse Iosco County News-Herald
OSCODA — Diana Shackleton began her descent of the 300-step path leading to Iargo Springs in Oscoda late Friday afternoon.
She said that, more than three years ago, it would have taken her 30 minutes to climb back to the top. This year, the effort took just seven minutes. Last year, the trek was 10 minutes.
The 26-year-old Oscoda woman underwent a bilateral lung transplant on Nov. 7, 2005, and celebrates the successful surgery by walking the stairs at Iargo Springs each year on the anniversary date.
“I do it because I can and also to honor the donor,” said Shackleton. “I want to put these lungs to good use.”
“It’s almost like having another birthday, yet it’s more important to me than my actual birthday,” she added.
When she was 9 weeks old, Shackleton was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The severe damage to her lungs placed her on a transplant list in June of 2005. The next month, she married Justin Shackleton.
The day after her 23rd birthday, on Nov. 6, 2005, she received news that a pair of lungs was available. Her diseased lungs were replaced with the donated ones at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor the following day.
Shackleton remained in the hospital for four weeks and, once home, participated in the St. Joseph pulmonary rehabilitation program.
The lung donor was a 25-year-old woman, said Shackleton. Her identity was discovered two days after the surgery by Shackleton’s mother, who was told of an article in the Bay City Times about the donor. A phone call was made to her mother.
“I think you’re the mother of my daughter’s lungs,” said Shackleton’s mother, Lyn Smith.
Later, Shackleton met the donor’s family and was told that she was among seven people who received organs from the deceased.
Shackleton said that she places roses on the donor’s grave in Bay City each year since receiving the transplant.
The 2001 Tawas Area High School graduate is currently a group leader for the 4-H sponsored Iosco County Teen Mentoring Program. She is active in local live drama productions, both in front of and behind the curtain. Just three months after her surgery, she tried out successfully as a cast member of the Tawas Bay Players’ production of the “Wizard of Oz,” singing and dancing on stage as a poppy. She said that she also loves performing karaoke and likes to write.
“She does amazingly well,” said her mother.