CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Thousands of photos and Alana Richey says her favorite one of her son was taken a few years ago in Paris.
Richey's son, Tripp Oldham, lost his life to cystic fibrosis a few weeks ago after fighting the disease for 21 years. Richey says in 2011 he began the process of getting on a transplant list, and finally did in February at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. The call came in May.
"He was extremely excited, scared, but he knew that he had worked hard to have this opportunity and he was really looking forward to taking that first breath."
But, the lungs were compromised because the donor's kidney had a cancerous growth. She says within a couple of weeks her son's lung function was down to 16 percent, and his body began to shutdown.
"It was hard, but we never gave up hope until the last moment, which was the morning that he got his angel wings."
The medical director of lung transplant at MUSC says Richey's son and the young girl in Pennsylvania are why we need more organ donors.
"There are many people who are waiting for an organ transplant everyday, both young kids, like her, as well as adults, and, unfortunately, there are just not enough organs out there," explains pulmonologist Dr. Timothy Whelan.
Richey says, while her son didn't qualify for a transplant a second time, she isn't disappointed in the system.
"I truly believe the allocation of organs is fair and equitable the way it is. It's based on things that you and I as average people can't possibly begin to understand."
And as she reminisces in her son's music room, decorated with life-size photos, she says she has no regrets...
"The most amazing young man that anyone could have the pleasure to have and call son. He's my heart, forever."