A Quinnipiac students journey towards graduation

Olivia Schueller

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After six years, Nicole Antaya will graduate from Quinnipiac University this May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but the 24-year-olds journey towards graduation was an uphill battle.

“The only time I asked God why us, why Nicole, was when she was so so sick, essentially dying, and was coughing up blood and could not sleep,” Antaya’s mom, Mary Antaya, said. “I think that’s when I just said something’s got to give, this is too much.”

Antaya was born with Cystic Fibrosis. One surgery changed her life, but the process didn’t happen overnight.

“We applied to the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital… their waitlist was three years long, and so I didn’t have three years,” said Antaya. “I had about six months according to what the doctors said, so that was not a valuable option.”

Antaya and her family continued to look around the area. They came across Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, a hospital that accepts patients who are very ill.

On Aug. 13, 2015 Antaya got a phone call that she’d be getting a double lung transplant.

“I just kind of froze, you know?” Antaya said. “I just remember after that they wheeled me into the operating room, and I said goodbye to my Mom and that was it.” 

Antaya spent many months in the hospital. There were complications Antaya and her family didn’t see coming.

“I was in the ICU for about a month in total time, and then they moved me down to the step down unit,” said Antaya. “And during everything like that, I was in a medically induced coma for about a week or so and woke up on a ventilator.”

But the long and invasive process was worth it for Antaya.

“Now it’s incredible,” said Antaya. “I’m more independent than I’ve ever been before, I’m able to live in the dorm at Quinnipiac, which is something I couldn’t even dreamed of before.”

That dream came true because of 17-year-old Jordan’s lungs. Jordan died in a car accident.

“I wrote my donor family a letter because I thought that is something I need to express and then it was a year and a half later that I actually heard back from the family,” said Antaya.

Antaya does everything now with Jordan in mind.

“With the new club that I just started,Student Organ Donor Advocates here at Quinnipiac, I want to completely reflect his love of life, his love of people and the care that he had for his community,” said Antaya.

Antaya’s life has completely changed since receiving Jordan’s lungs.

“Now it’s incredible. I’m more independent than I’ve ever been before, I’m able to live in the dorm at Quinnipiac, which is something I couldn’t even dreamed of before,”Antaya said.

But Antaya won’t be staying in her Quinnipiac dorm much longer, next year she will begin another new chapter.

“I just got into grad school at Southern Connecticut State University,” Antaya said. “I’m very happy and so I’ll be starting my social work path this fall of 2019.”

Those around Antaya are just as happy.

Mary Antaya said, “It is nothing short of a miracle, absolutely nothing short of a miracle.”