Carmen Armstrong, waited unsuccessfully for lung transplant

July 18, 1992

Carmen Farnes Armstrong, for whom a suitable donor lung for a transplant never became available, died Wednesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of heart and lung failure. She was 55.

The former Florida resident's long wait for a lung transplant was described in a May 10 article in The Sun.

"It's just so frustrating . . . because the overall number of donors is just a tenth of what we feel could be donated if people were willing to donate," said Dr. R. Scott Stuart, director of Hopkins' lung transplant program.

A Mass of Christian burial for Mrs. Armstrong will be offered at 9 a.m. today at St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Church, 6405 Orchard Road in Linthicum.

Born in New York City, Mrs. Armstrong attended schools in Puerto Rico and New York. She was a graduate of Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament Academy in Goshen, N.Y. and attended the University of Miami. She worked for many years as a bookkeeper and statistician.

In an interview, Mrs. Armstrong said she had long suffered from a respiratory weakness which she attributed to a childhood bout with polio.

But her condition began to deteriorate in the past three years, and she was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive scarring and thickening of tissues of the lungs. Its cause is unknown.

She was placed last year on the waiting list for a lung transplant at Johns Hopkins, and she moved last September from her home in Boynton Beach, Fla., to be closer to Hopkins in case a donor lung became available. Confined to bed and tethered to oxygen tanks, she lived with her daughter, Lisa Kathleen Armstrong, in a Glen Burnie apartment.

She began to spend more time in the hospital in recent weeks as her lungs deteriorated, and was admitted for the last time July 8.

Dr. Stuart said that throughout Mrs. Armstrong's wait for a donor lung, including several months during the winter when she was temporarily removed from the waiting list, no suitable organs ever became available.

Mrs. Armstrong's brother, Angelo R. Farnes of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said she was "writing and lucid right to the end. She wanted to let people know the absolute necessity of a donation."

"If I die, don't be sad for me, because I had my chance," she was quoted as saying in the May 10 article. "I just want other people to have the chance I had."

Mrs. Armstrong donated her own corneas, and offered any other organs that might be usable after her death, Mr. Farnes said.

She also authorized doctors after her death to conduct whatever procedures might help them learn more about her disease.

In addition to her daughter and brother, Mrs. Armstrong is survived by a son, James Michael Armstrong of Miami, and several aunts, uncles and nieces.

The family suggested memorial donations to the American Lung Association or to a church.

Information about organ donations may be obtained by writing to the Transplant Resource Center of Maryland, Box 98, 22 S. Greene St., Baltimore 21201, or by calling (410) 328-3626.

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