Sen. Sharon Runner
State Sen. Sharon Runner received a lung transplant Friday at a Los Angeles-area hospital as treatment for limited scleroderma, or CREST syndrome, a condition the lawmaker has battled for more than two decades.
Sources close to Runner’s family told KHTS that the Senator went into surgery shortly after 7 a.m. for the anticipated 10-hour procedure. Her husband, Board of Equalization Member George Runner, and their son, Mikah, accompanied her to the hospital.
Sharon Runner was placed on the transplant list in February 2008, but removed herself within a year as her condition improved with medication and therapy. After a relapse in January 2012, she was again placed on the list as a viable candidate. She went into relative isolation at home, working electronically with colleagues in Sacramento and remaining accessible via the internet to those in her district.
After the surgery, lung transplant patients can expect to be in the Intensive Care Unit for two to five days, followed by two to eight weeks in the hospital, as doctors monitor for bleeding, infection, adverse reactions to medication or organ rejection. Patients must take immunosuppressive drugs for life after the surgery.
Runner expects to be back at work by June.
Earlier this week, Runner announced that she would not seek reelection to the office, to which she was elected in 2010, after George Runner was elected to a seat on the state’s Board of Equalization. Her term expires in early December.
“Serving the people of our community over my lifetime has been an amazing blessing and I am so very thankful for their support throughout each of my elections and my tenure in office,” said Runner. “In the coming years, I will be working on behalf of the community that I love, but not in the role as an elected official.”
Limited scleroderma, or CREST syndrome, is an autoimmune condition affecting the body’s connective tissue. The purpose of the body’s immune system is to fight infection and disease; however, with limited scleroderma, the immune system attacks the healthy connective tissue as well.
When she leaves the Senate, Sharon Runner will leave a legacy of service, having served as a leader in caucuses, as a point person on the state budget in the Assembly and co-authoring Jessica’s Law, one of the toughest sexual predator laws in the nation, which California voters passed with 71 percent of the vote in November, 2006.
“Sharon has been a wonderful leader for the people of California,” said Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff. “There are hundreds of local elected officials all over this state who consider her a mentor and friend.”
Runner has been the most popular citizen in elected office in the Antelope Valley for more than a decade. Her name has appeared on the ballot seven times for Legislative races and she has never lost an election, often times winning by overwhelming margins.
As President of California Women Lead, a statewide bi-partisan organization, Runner will continue to work with other California women in elected office to empower, energize and engage women to run for public office.
“The people of California owe Sharon a huge debt of gratitude for her service,” said Congressman and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy. “She was a part of my leadership team when I was in Sacramento, but when I came to the Antelope Valley it was very clear who was in charge there.”