Utah nurse discharged from UF Health after double lung transplant

Jill Holker spent her days on the front line as an ICU nurse in Utah, caring for some of the sickest people in the state. Prior to contracting COVID-19 in the fall of 2020, Holker was active, with no underlying health concerns. 

Yet, as the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, the coronavirus affects everyone differently. In Jill’s case, the disease would cause a role reversal by making her an ICU patient. She needed a double-lung transplant, which led to Jill’s 2,000-mile journey to UF Health Shands Hospital.

Despite the distance, Jill said she felt right at home in the hands of UF Health’s distinguished hospitality and care teams.

“This hospital is great, very knowledgeable, the staff are great, the doctors are great,” Jill said. “There’s a handful of people that I feel like were really fighting for me, like sincerely fighting for me, and it’s staff and it’s people who never knew me. 

“I think that’s one of my biggest takeaways is that this place has got a lot of caring people,” she said.

Watch the video above to see how Jill found a new family at UF Health who helped her battle her condition and receive new lungs before being discharged to continue her heroic work in Utah.

Jill’s story comes during a moment of great pride for the UF Health Shands Hospital’s lung transplant program, which earned national recognition a month ago.

The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, or SRTR, is the most comprehensive national database of organ transplant outcomes and provides quality oversight for hospitals who conduct solid organ transplantation. Data in the SRTR database are largely collected directly by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, or OPTN, and are used by patients and health professionals alike to decide where to go — or refer someone — for a transplant.

In SRTR’s January 2021 year report, UF Health Shands Hospital’s lung transplant program’s outcomes exceeded its previous years in each category, making it the top-tier program across the Southeast. Nationally, the UF Health Shands Hospital lung transplant program ranked as the best in the United States for one-year, risk-adjusted survival rates.