Symbol of hope stolen from lung transplant survivor

Flying pig

Gilroy resident Dianne Scarbrough is hoping for another miracle this New Year – or, at least – to get her own “Miracle” back.

After undergoing a double lung transplant Sept. 26, 2009 at the Stanford Hospital transplant center in Palo Alto, Dianne’s body in August unexpectedly rejected her new set of lungs. The 59-year-old Gilroy resident was given two weeks to a month to live.

In the interim, Dianne and her husband of 25 years, Bardie, would like to be reunited with a whimsical symbol of hope that was stolen New Year’s Eve off their front porch.

Named “Miracle,” Dianne and Bardie bought the flying pig Christmas decoration from Lowe’s Home Improvement not long after her lung transplant. The couple named the fanciful ornament in honor of the new chance at life that Dianne had received after undergoing surgery. The Scarbroughs took Miracle home with them and put it on their front porch, where it stayed from October until the end of the year. Miracle became a symbol of hope for the Scarbroughs, especially when Dianne was given such a short time to live.

“I know [Miracle] had nothing to do with saving my life,” Dianne said. “I’m not superstitious, but it’s something that meant a lot to my husband and I.”

They would love to get their Miracle back.

When Dianne first found out that she needed a double lung transplant, she told her husband that she would likely get her new lungs “when pigs fly.”

That’s why, soon after Dianne’s successful double lung transplant, it was so special and symbolic for she and her husband to find a big, pink, lit-up pig – complete with a set of slowly flapping wings.  

Dianne was diagnosed in 2008 with a rare genetic lung disorder called Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. The condition had been misdiagnosed her entire life as allergies or asthma. By 2009, she knew she would need a double lung transplant to live.

At the time, the Scarbroughs resided in Alaska, where they had lived with their family for more than 30 years. When they found out that Dianne needed a transplant, they left everything and moved to Gilroy to be closer to the medical treatment available at the Stanford Hospital.

Roughly two months after getting on the donor list, Dianne received a successful double lung transplant. Since then, they were able to see one of their sons gets married. They had the wedding in their backyard in Gilroy, and a year later saw the birth of their first grandchild. If Dianne hadn’t received her transplant, Bardie said she likely wouldn’t have lived more than a few months after being put on the donor list.

As of Wednesday, Dianne was back in Stanford Hospital coping with pancreatitis – a side effect of her anti-rejection medication.

“She’s a fighter,” said her husband Wednesday. “She’s an amazing person.”

Bubbly and outgoing, Dianne’s personal backstory is colored by an unusually varied career that includes being the first woman in the U.S. Air Force to be stationed in Iceland in the early 1970s; one of the first women engineers in the space shuttle program at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc; having her own dance teaching license and dance studio at the age of 13; and being a professional clown for 15 years in Alaska, where she became highly popular and performed all over for the likes of famous folks including Sara Palin.

“She’s done a little bit of it all, and succeeded tremendously,” chuckled Bardie.

Now that Dianne is in rejection and has been given a short time to live, the Scarbroughs are asking for whoever took their flying pig decoration to bring it back to their home at 9013 Brittany Court.

“No questions asked, just drop it off in our yard,” Bardie said. “Or leave it at our front door. We promise not to bite.”