Jeffrey Justin Palma was born on July 16th, 1993, in Las Vegas, NV. As a child, he was very active in sports, playing both football and soccer. He struggled with respiratory challenges as a pre-teen but was misdiagnosed with asthma and occasional bronchitis.
In February 2010, at the age of 16, Jeffrey began experiencing tachycardia and shortness of breath. His mother, Judy, immediately rushed him to the Emergency Room. After the doctors stabilized his heart and performed several tests, it was confirmed that Jeffrey had Cystic Fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that affects the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. It causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus that clogs the airways and traps germs, like bacteria, leading to infections, inflammation, respiratory failure, and other complications.
Jeffrey was hospitalized multiple times a year, often for several weeks at a time, and treated with IV antibiotics to fight his frequent lung infections and pneumonia. Over time his left lung collapsed, his pulmonary function dropped to 19%, and he required oxygen 24/7. Due to the decline in his health, his pulmonologist suggested that Jeffrey and his family consider lung transplantation to extend and improve his quality of life.
Jeffrey was evaluated for a transplant at Stanford University Medical Center. During his evaluation, his doctors explained that because his heart was working overtime to support his breathing, it had become enlarged. It was determined that a double lung and heart transplant would provide the most favorable outcome and increase his chances of survival. Jeffrey was placed on the UNOS Organ Transplant Waiting List in July 2017.
On November 17, 2017, Jeffrey received the call for transplant, and he and his family immediately rushed to Stanford. Unfortunately, the surgeons decided that the donor's lungs were not healthy enough to proceed with the transplant, so they returned home. Two months later, on January 17, 2018, they received another call. Jeffrey underwent a double lung and heart transplant and received the gift of life at Stanford University Medical Center.
We understand that parts of Jeffrey’s original heart were donated to other patients in need. Essentially, he became a domino donor. It was a blessing for his family to witness this beautiful miracle. With new lungs and a heart from the same donor, Jeffrey was given a new life while he was able to help save someone else.
Jeffrey was blessed with an amazing 3 1/2 years following his transplant. Unfortunately, Jeffrey was diagnosed with chronic lung rejection in the summer of 2021 and had continuous complications throughout the following year. On August 19th, 2022, Jeffrey was admitted to the ICU following a routine bronchoscopy. His lung function had again declined, and his 02 was 78% at rest. He was placed on a ventilator for 5 days. On August 24th at 3:00 am, God called Jeffrey home. He fought long and hard until the end. We are extraordinarily proud of him.
Jeffrey’s House was born not only to carry on the incredible legacy that Jeffrey left behind but to provide relief to organ transplant recipients undergoing financial hardship.