Antaya’s pillbox resembles a tackle box with rows of compartments filled with colorful tablets, capsules and blister packs. She has to return to Duke every six months for checkups — every four weeks when she is in rejection — for the rest of her life.
“When you have a transplant, it’s a lifelong battle against rejection. I’m up to 83 pills a day now,” Antaya said. “A lot are anti-rejection medicines, which help suppress the immune system so my body doesn’t realize these are foreign lungs. Some are antibiotics and supplements. A lot of them are blood pressure medicines. My blood pressure in the ICU was 300 over 200. It’s better now, but that’s crazy, right?”
Perhaps, but not so crazy that it ever discouraged her from completing her degree. She is grateful for the help of Professor Anne O’Donnell Eisbach, chair of the psychology department, and several other psychology professors, including her academic adviser Penny Leisring; Gary Giumetti, the faculty adviser for the Psi Chi psychology honor society; and Thomas Pruzinsky.
“Professor Pruzinsky was always willing to work with me. It was never, ‘Oh, you’re running behind.’ His support really gave me the stamina to plow through and finish my work,” Antaya said. “I can’t speak highly enough of him. I’ve never met someone with such a high level of emotional intelligence.”
Antaya found similar support and compassion from Eisbach and her other professors.