16

Jan

‘Star Wars’ Actor Aids In Providing Life-Saving Transplant

Peter-Mayhew-chewbacca-MAIN

When it came to receiving a life-saving lung transplant, the force was with Kathlyn Chassey.

The 24-year-old Texan was put on an artificial lung by her doctors, but was turned down for a transplant by every doctor she approached in the Southwest because her case was deemed too risky. But just when all hope seemed lost, she found a solution in the form of Peter Mayhew, the actor best known for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars series.

She had kept a casual friendship with Mayhew ever since she was a small child, when she posed for a photo with the actor at a Star Wars convention. Referring to her as “the littlest wookiee,” he put a call-out on social media asking if anyone could step in and help.

“That night, a website went live. Tweets went out. Facebook messages went out. And it was surreal,” said Chassey to CBS Los Angeles. “Everybody needs a chance and I needed a chance.”

Shortly after Mayhew’s plea, she was given an offer by Abbas Ardehali, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center. She was flown from San Antonio to Southern California by the Air Force’s 59th Medical Wing on Dec. 12 and received her new lungs right after Christmas.

She must remain in Southern California for a few more months, but has been released from the hospital already and is expected to make a full recovery. Chassey said she owes her life to both Mayhew and Ardehali.

“I can breathe,” she said. “That first breath I took when I woke up after the transplant, it felt so clear.”