Brenda Moss, one of the first patients to receive a lung transplant in the Seattle area, 20 years ago, died at 71 on May 2 after her one working lung succumbed to viral pneumonia.

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Brenda Moss, one of the first patients to receive a lung transplant in the Seattle area, 20 years ago, died at 71 on May 2 after her one working lung succumbed to viral pneumonia.

Mrs. Moss lived well past the expected lung-transplant survival rate of five years, in part because of her strong immune system and its compatibility with her donor, according to University of Washington doctors.

Mrs. Moss, of Auburn, was born July 23, 1940, in Des Moines, Iowa, and moved to Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood with her family at age 6. She married at 16 and had two children. That marriage ended in divorce.

Her daughter, Dawn Revell, of Seattle, remembers her mother as a “firecracker, a redhead” who was sometimes argumentative but always creative and fun.

“Everyone wanted to be at my house,” Revell said. Mrs. Moss’ spunky personality made the home fun, she said, and her mother always put other people first.

She married a second time, to Daniel Moss, of Auburn, in 1979, and worked with him at Boeing for eight years. While working at Boeing, she developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and retired in 1990 after her symptoms grew worse.

Her doctor recommended she put her name on a list for a donor lung as part of the new transplant program in the pulmonary department at University of Washington Medical Center.

After a six-month wait, Mrs. Moss received the lung in 1992 from a 34-year-old man from Alaska who had died. His other lung went to a man from Auburn, who became a friend of Mrs. Moss and her family. He died about three years after his transplant.

Dr. Michael Mulligan, the current director for the lung-transplant program at the UW Medical Center, said that at the time Mrs. Moss received her transplant, the five-year survival rate was less than 50 percent.

Mulligan said the lung is the least likely organ to be accepted by a transplant patient’s body because the patient’s immune system must be maintained at a high level during and after surgery.

“That is a testimony more to her immune system’s compatibility with that donor,” he said, explaining Mrs. Moss’ body adapted to the new organ in a way many other patients’ systems struggle to do.

Today, the survival rate in Washington is higher than average, about 65 percent.

Revell said her mother grew more active as she recuperated from surgery, spending time playing sports and riding a stationary bike.

Mrs. Moss got involved in the UW Lung Transplant Support Group. She became a leader in the Cyclamen Chapter of the Eastern Star, an organization of women Free Masons.

She also volunteered for the Auburn Police Department with her husband and was active in the United Methodist Church.

“She was a woman who, when she set her mind on something, she would do it,” her husband said. “She thought she was Superwoman, and she probably was.”

In her last year, Mrs. Moss spent time at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way and the UW Medical Center for treatment of pneumonia and an unrelated infection. She traveled for a time between a continuing care facility and St. Francis, where she died. She is survived by her husband; her sister, Janet Zurschmeide, of Pacific; her daughters, Dawn Revell and Lisa Wyman, of Tacoma; son Carl Razor, of Auburn; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. A service will be held June 3 at 2 p.m. at the King Solomon Lodge, a Masonic Temple, at 10 Auburn Way S. in Auburn.

Mary Jean Spadafora: 206-464-2168 or mjspadafora@seattletimes.com