Lives Lost: Virus fells double-lung transplant daredevil

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In this Sept. 2018 photo, Joanne Mellady, right, poses with her sisters Jean Sinofsky, left, and Joyce Smith, center, at a Massachusetts beach on Cape Cod during a bike trek fundraiser for Alpha 1.org. Mellady, who received a double lung transplant in 2007, died of the coronavirus in March 2020. (Ed Sinofsky via AP)

BOSTON – Before her double-lung transplant, Joanne Mellady could barely put on a shirt without losing her breath. Afterwards, she barely stopped moving.

Mellady, who died of the coronavirus in March, had a bucket list that made her family blush.

Since getting her transplant in 2007, the widow and former technology consultant from the town of Washington, New Hampshire, traveled in her RV up and down the East Coast and made trips to Alaska and the Grand Canyon.

Mellady, 67, transformed herself from a shy person dependent on oxygen around the clock to a vivacious risk taker willing to try almost anything. Hang gliding, skiing, skateboarding and kayaking were among the thrills she took on.

Before her death, Mellady was talking of a return visit to Alaska this summer and of participating again in the Transplant Games (now postponed). She won medals in bocce, bowling and swimming in past competitions and was hoping to compete in the golf event.

“She had this bucket list she made and went after it with a vengeance,” said Mellady's sister, Jean Sinofsky. “She appreciated every day. She lived her life like everybody should.”

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of an ongoing series of stories remembering people who have died from coronavirus around the world.