Two Sisters at Heart Share Journey of Love for Lung Transplant Recipient

Ruby and Carla Carswell share Todd Carswell’s lung health journey to help promote community participation in the Fight For Air Climb Charlotte
Ruby Carswell, regardless of her role as a mother, grandmother, wife, or sister-in-law, is “strong in my faith, my love for family and living in the moment,” shares Carswell, resident of Travelers Rest, SC. “That is what Todd Carswell, my late husband, would have wanted for me as that is how he lived. I am so grateful for the 516 days we had together.”

The Carswell’s love story is one that was “just meant to be,” shares Ruby. “"My time with Todd, although brief, was the most transformational time of my life. From the moment we met, he promised to 'make my life easy' and, through his every word and action, he exhibited extraordinary love, something I had never experienced. Because of the gift of Todd Carswell in my life, I learned how to truly love and how to BE loved. Todd showed me that it is worth taking the chance to love. I wish he was able to see the beautiful sisterhood and friendship that Carla and I share, and how we figure out life together. I am grateful every single day that we are in each other's world."

Todd Carswell, diagnosed in 2015 with NSIP (non-specific interstitial pneumonitis), which causes progressive scarring of lung tissue, was one of those guys that “lived life to the fullest, was kind to everyone and fit more in his 56 years than the typical person that lives to be 90 years,” shares one of his three sisters Carla Carswell, of Lexington, North Carolina. “Ruby and Todd’s love happened quickly but both nurtured that relationship and you could just see in the way they looked at each other their sincere respect, admiration, and unwavering true love they had for one another. They had so many plans to travel the world, spend time with family and make the most of every day – together.”

Just two weeks after marrying Ruby in the December of 2017, Todd’s health started to steadily decline. Within a few months Todd was on oxygen full time and by May 2018, Todd was placed on a lung transplant list. In June Todd received a lung transplant and within 24 hours after surgery, Todd "took his first breath with his beautiful new lungs and his oxygen levels were pretty near perfect,” Ruby shared.

From that point forward, Ruby and Carla, together with Todd’s other sisters Stacy Carswell Lyons and Jennifer Carswell Briere, barely left Todd’s side while he was in the hospital and while he recovered at the SECU Family House in Chapel Hill for three months. During that time, Ruby’s love for Todd grew along with the strong bond she developed with Carla, her sister-in-law. “To this day, I see Ruby as my sister and Todd is the one that brought us together,” shares Carla.  “Ruby is a gift from Todd and one I will always cherish. Todd gave me my best friend.”

In late summer just two months after the transplant, Todd’s health dramatically declined after developing HHV6 encephalitis, a virus that attacks the nervous system. Ruby recalls Todd telling his doctor at the time “"Give me everything you've got. I've got a lot invested in this!"

Todd and his loving family never gave up hope. Unfortunately, Todd’s health never improved after that, and he passed away on October 5, 2018, with Ruby, Carla, and Ruby’s daughter Emily by his side.

The Carswell family was never able to identify the exact cause of Todd’s initial lung disease diagnosis, but Ruby shares that “Until Todd’s health really declined, I never paid much attention to my lungs and the air we breathe. Now, this experience makes me stop and think about all the people I know that have been impacted by lung disease. My Dad passed away from COVID-19, Carla’s mom passed from pulmonary fibrosis and her husband passed away from lung cancer. Our family has felt the true burden of lung disease.”

Today, more than 2 million people in North and South Carolina combined are living with chronic lung disease.  That includes adults ever diagnosed with COPD or currently with asthma, plus children currently with asthma.

“Todd taught me how to love deeper than I ever thought possible, and not a day goes by that my heart doesn’t skip a beat when I think of him, and I need to take in a breath. But I owe it to him, to do something for myself and others,” said Ruby. “So together with Carla, my sister at heart, Jennifer, Stacy, and our entire Team Todd, we will honor Todd. We hope to shed light on the importance of lung health by fundraising for the American Lung Association to support their research, education and advocacy efforts and by participating in the upcoming Fight for Air Climb in Charlotte on March 25. We hope you will join us. Together, we WILL make a difference.”

The Fight For Air Climb, supports the mission of the American Lung Association and their efforts to defeat lung cancer, champion clean air, improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families, and to create a tobacco-free future.   

To learn more about the Charlotte Fight For Air Climb on March 25 at Truist Field, home of the Charlotte Knights and to register, visit FightForAirClimb.org/Charlotte. 

Stay connected to the American Lung Association by following us on Facebook @AmericanLungAssociationNC or Instagram @americanlungassociationclt.
For more information, contact:

Jill Smith
704-818-4138
[email protected]

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