Story Tip: Patient Gets Lung Transplant at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Returns as Nurse


Brianna Fogelman returned to Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2020 as a medical and surgical nurse one year after receiving a lung transplant there.

Brianna Fogelman, 27, began working for Johns Hopkins Medicine as a medical and surgical unit nurse in the fall of 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although she was new to The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s health care team, it wasn’t the first time Fogelman had been inside the facility. Previously, she was on the operating room table rather than beside it.

Once an active track and field athlete, Fogelman began experiencing shortness of breath and difficulty speaking in the spring of 2019, during her third year as a nursing student at Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. Soon after, Fogelman’s lungs were functioning at only 20% of their normal ability, and they were threatening to fail altogether. She was admitted to The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she developed pneumonia and lost all lung function. Moved to an intensive care unit, Fogelman was placed on the emergency transplant waiting list.

A month later, a team led by Errol Bush, M.D., surgical director of the advanced lung disease and lung transplant program, and associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, received a suitable donor organ and performed a bilateral lung transplant on Fogelman, meaning that both of her lungs were replaced.

Also, her new right lung’s lower lobe — a third of the organ — had to be removed during the operation to fit the lung properly in her smaller-than-average chest cavity. Fortunately, the missing portion wasn’t critical to Fogelman’s respiratory needs.

Now, working at the hospital where she received her life-altering transplant, Fogelman says she can fully empathize with her patients and their families, knowing exactly what they are going through.

“As a patient I had to endure the journey of uncertainty before my lung transplant,” says Fogelman. “As a nurse, I work to support patients and families during their health journey while instilling hope.”

Fogelman and Bush are available for interviews.