Unlike LeBron James, I know I am staying in Cleveland…

By Christopher Green

Cleveland has a lot to offer both LeBron and myself. We were both born in the area. Our families are here. There people that love us unconditionally are here. We both became men here in Northeast Ohio.

But for me, it really is much more than that.

For me, it’s a matter of life and death.

LeBron can go to New York, Chicago or whatever larger market NBA city has the assets and amenities to offer.

Me, well I am staying here because of the Cleveland Clinic.

Don’t get me wrong. I was tempted by Nashville. The climate is certainly better and they do have a world class Lung Transplant Center at Vanderbilt University.

But the Cleveland Clinic is here, less than 20 miles from my home. The Clinic also has a really good Lung Transplant Program, recognized across the world as a center for all sorts of medical breakthroughs and, more important, success.

I do have a concern, like LeBron must have, about the intentions of the people calling the shots.

They do so many lung transplants, 157 in 2009 alone, that they may be more interested in jacking up their numbers instead of the well-being of the patients. I have to say this because it is a small, nagging concern of mine.

However, I was assured when I brought this very issue up during my last daylong series of test.  The team made it absolutely clear to me that they would have no problem kicking my transplant down the road. In fact, they would love it if they did not have to list me right now.

I have until I am 60, according to Clinic protocol, to qualify for a double transplant. After that, I have to make do with what god gave me.

So anyway, I figure that the best place to be is the place they have a lot of practice at doing what I need to have done.

So let me introduce you to person I have gotten to know and trust over the last six years.

Her name is Dr. Marie Budev.

Dr. Budev is the Medical Director of the Lung Transplant Program.  She was appointed in 2004, the same year that I first went to the clinic to see about getting a transplant. If you remember, it was six years ago that I spent 35 days in the hospital. That was the last straw, or so they thought, for my current set of lungs.

I was release from Fairview Hospital in bad shape and was recommended by my previous Pulmonary Doctor, Dr. Chadwick. He had been my doctor all through the 90’s and right up until the end of that stay back in 2004.

It was his idea and Dr. Sharma’s insistence that I go over to the Cleveland Clinic to see about being listed for a transplant.

I went through all the tests and Dr. Budev was really sweet and concerned about my health.  The department was also very busy. As a matter of fact, I have to say they are organized and operate much like a military command structure.

Everything is planned out down to the second. Everyone knows their tasks and they all seem very proficient. They also have made it a point to care about the patients, but not pull any punches.

I do have a bone to pick with Dr. Budev though. I have been dumped by a lot of women over the years, but back in 2005, not even a phone call to tell me I was no longer considered sick enough for the transplant program.

In that way, she was like a shark, going for the next patient with little to no regard for the patients that she could not help or, more correctly, did not need her help.

I guess that is the best way to be, but I still felt jilted.

When I came back in March to see her again, it was as if we had never been apart.

You can read more about her at this link.


I have great confidence in her diagnosis ability as well as her bedside manner. I will not feel at all ill at ease asking her the tough questions.

I already have.

There is a great article on Cleveland.com, the web site for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. That article can be found at this link.


I have yet to meet a surgeon, but I expect that as the day draws near, I will get a chance to talk and ask questions.

As I said before, I have complete confidence in the ability of the staff and doctors at the Cleveland Clinic. And asking that question about upping their stats was answered matter-of-factly and I think they were glad I asked. I think Dr. Budev is completely at ease with her abilities and her teams’ capabilities.

I like her and, more importantly, respect her.

I have an appointment to be tested again on June 30th. What they do is measure my lung capacity and then have me walk at a normal pace for five minutes. While I am walking, they keep measuring the Oxygen Saturation level of my blood.

The last time I did the test, they had the O2 cranked up to 6 or 8 liters of Oxygen per minute. My saturation level was in the low 80’s. A normal person hovers at between 97-99.

Today I strapped on my portable Oxygen tank and walked for five minutes up and down the hallway in my house with my Pulse Ox device clamped on my finger. I only ran 2 liters per minute and at the end, my saturation level was around 92.

Let’s just say I am cautiously optimistic that I may not be listed just yet.

We will find out on Wednesday.

I’ll let you know.

Oh and about LeBron James. Well, I am just like every other Cleveland Blogger. I used his name to get more eyeballs to the site.

BTW, I hope he stays. No one else will really embrace him the way we do. After all, he is one of us. Besides that, we will love him even if he never wins, gulp, a championship. Will Beyonce and Jimmy Jazz, or whatever his stage name is, still want to hang when his three shot inevitably falters?

Nevertheless, if he does go, I will know that the truly important stuff will always be here. Stuff like the Cleveland Clinic, the Orchestra, the Art Museum, Playhouse Square and all the wonderful people who live, work and die here.

We have had our hearts broken by our sports teams for far too long. The best part is having the Clinic, as we like to call it, here to repair when the truly important things go wrong.

They use to call Cleveland the Best Location in the Nation. In medical circles, that just may still be the case.


7 Responses to Unlike LeBron James, I know I am staying in Cleveland…

  1. Justin says:

    Nice use of current events to make your point. It sounds like you’re in a tough situation. I know its not a panacea by any stretch of the imagination, but my grandpa recently got a Portable Oxygen Concentrator and that seemed to help his mobility. Also, I think the concentrator is much than its bottled oxygen counter-part. The concentrator actually creates the oxygen you need without the risk of leaks, explosions, or fires.

  2. MissP says:

    Still, that will be one less thing for you to bother with once you have your new lungs. One less thing to lug around and worry about. And that’s just the beginning.

    • Yea, I won’t be tethered anymore…

      • D Haugli says:

        I read your story. I understand exactly where you are, your stats and what you are going to face. You are in the BEST hands possible. Dr. Budev is a treasure and her skill in understanding the psychology of the patient and their family is unique. Trust her, trust the program and don’t look back. It has made all the difference to my father, a single lung transplant. Good luck.

      • She certainly is a treasure. I have been tied to her one way or another since 2004 when I first was intoduced to her and the Cleveland Clinics transplant program.

  3. I am happy to have found your site. The information is right on and groovy. Keep up the good work and I will keep coming back to visit.

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