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In this episode I talk to Colleen Adamson about her life, her family, cystic fibrosis, the challenges of living with donated organs, maintaining unwavering optimism in the face of dire circumstances, and beating the odds to become one of the longest living lung transplant survivors.

Watch the beautiful documentary of the 20-year anniversary of Colleen’s lung transplant here.

Learn more about organ donation at


Colleen Adamson is 50 years old, and was born and raised in Rome, NY. She went to Union College in Schenectady, NY, graduating in 1991 with a BS in Applied Mathematics. She then went to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, graduating in December 1992 with a MS in Operations Research. While in college, she spent her summers working in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in Rome, NY, writing code for a natural language generation system and synchronizing it with war game and flight simulators. After graduation from William and Mary, she went to work for the Navy at the Naval Center for Cost Analysis (NCCA) in Washington DC as an Operations Research Analyst. She continued her work as an Operations Research Analyst throughout her 26.5-year career with the Federal Government, until retiring in April 2018.
Colleen was married to Scott Adamson in June 1997. They have a miniature schnauzer named Penny, and live in Alexandria, VA.
Colleen was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) when she was 13 months old. Colleen went into respiratory failure, a complication of CF, in December 1997. Colleen received a life-saving bilateral lung transplant on July 3, 1998 at Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, VA. She also had a kidney transplant on March 7, 2006 at Fairfax Hospital. She received a kidney from her best friend Kelly. Colleen and Kelly met at Union College, and they were roommates there for two years.


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