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Dotson doing well after lung transplant

Kevin Dotson, diagnosed with interstitial lung disease, now awaits a compatible lung donor. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Kevin Dotson, diagnosed with interstitial lung disease, received a double lung transplant at Mayo Clinic, doctors completing the nine-hour surgical procedure deeming it "successful."

Dotson, Park Rapids business owner and longtime school bus driver, was notified about 9:50 a.m. Friday, May 25 of a possible donor, wife Dianna said. An hour later, he was boarding a flight at the Park Rapids airport bound for Rochester. The flight arrived at noon and at 4 p.m. he was taken into surgery.

Meanwhile, Mayo sent a team to determine the condition of the lungs that had been determined to be compatible. An incision would not be made until they were considered satisfactory.

At 7:20 p.m., the surgical procedure began, she said, and at 4:20 a.m., a surgeon told the Dotson family the transplant was a success.

"We are so very thankful," Dianna said in a phone interview from Rochester Thursday. "I'm not sure I can explain my emotions. We're in awe, amazed. It's a miracle."

Interstitial lung disease causes progressive scarring of the lungs, the cause generally unknown.

The family learned last winter Kevin required a transplant, his only option. The lungs came from a person who'd been declared legally dead - likely from an accident - whose blood type matched Kevin's.

The Dotsons may not learn the identity of the donor; that will depend on the family's wishes.

Kevin is tentatively scheduled to be released from the hospital today (Saturday) and transferred to the Gift of Life Transplant House, daughter Emily assuming the "buddy role" for the next three months.

Daughter Jacqueline and Dianna will return to their routines, Jacqueline heading back to graduate school, a job and an internship, Dianna working at Dotson's Small Engine Sales and Service.

They will relieve Emily on weekends.

The updates posted on the "bus driver Kevin" site at report progress this week, his physical therapist "amazed by his balance."

"It is the opinion of most that one of the reasons Kevin is doing so well is his strength going in," Dianna said, attributing this to prayers.

"We are taking it day by day, hour by hour," she said. "We are blessed everything is going so well."