Virginia Stewart received seven calls that a set of new lungs might be hers.
Every time, she grabbed her bag and headed to UAB Hospital from her home in Ashford. Every time, she got all charged up, wondering if this would be the time it would work out.
The first six times, the answer was no.
“Every time they get a set of lungs, they call two people just in case the lungs don’t fit the first person,” Stewart said. “One time I got all the way to University Boulevard, and they called and told us to go back home, that this wasn’t my time.”
But the seventh time, it was.
She got a new set of lungs to replace the pair that had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis 11 years before.
‘My first miracle’
“With pulmonary fibrosis, you usually have a three-to-five-year lifespan,” said Stewart, a member of Bluff Springs Baptist Church, Ashford. “But I lived 11 years. That was my first miracle.”
The second was the transplant six years ago. And the third was when she survived COVID-19 this July. She was in UAB Hospital for 11 days before they sent her home.
“I’m not as strong as I was — it’ll just take some time,” she said. “My husband and I pray often for strength for the day.”
But her friend Delores Frye said over the years, not much has slowed Stewart down. She said Stewart has sewn hundreds of dresses for children in Third World countries and blankets for the homeless, all while using an oxygen tank. She helped grow a large sewing ministry at their church too.
Stewart also has traveled to other churches in the area to speak about the sewing project to encourage women there to do the same thing.
“She had the double lung transplant and kept on with her sewing,” Frye said. “She has a phenomenal testimony. She’s overcome so much, and she just keeps going.”
Stewart said she’s only made it through the hard times by holding on to the truth that God is holding her by the hand.
“Holding God’s hand and walking through it, that’s the only way to get through it,” she said.