I was always an active guy. I loved golfing, fishing, traveling and spending time with family and friends. In 2011 I noticed that breathing was getting more and more difficult when I was doing anything active. I chalked it up to being overweight.
In early 2012 I started losing weight but after dropping about 40 lbs.my breathing was still difficult my golfing friends would comment about my heavy breathing. In July I stopped at my doctor just to get a check up and a chest x-ray to see if there was a cause for my breathing. Boy was I in for a surprise after some test and x-ray he sent me to the hospital. Within a matter of 3 hours a Pulmonologist was telling me I had advanced interstitial lung disease and my life expectancy was very limited. But then said the good news was that I was a good candidate for a lung transplant. I almost fell off of the bed with unbelief. I left the hospital the next day with an oxygen tank that I was required to use at least 18 hours a day. After further test it was determined I was suffering from Pulmonary Fibrosis.
I am fortunate that our daughter is a Perfusionist with University of Minnesota and has had a lot of experience with lung and heart transplant surgeries and knew the Transplant Surgeons well. She encouraged me to travel up the Twin Cities in Minnesota and see the doctors there that have a lot of experience with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF).
I had my first appointment in September of 2012 over the course of the next 10 months my lungs continued to scar and my oxygen requirements increased continuously. By the summer of 2013 I was requiring 10 liters of oxygen at rest and up to 25 if I was moving.
I went through the transplant evaluation at the University of Minnesota in July of 2013. One of the last test that week is a right heart cath, my pulmonary pressure at that point was 85 with a normal being 15 to 20. I was placed on the transplant list 2 days later with a high number.
I was so fortunate, miraculously 6 days later we receive a call form the Transplant team that they had donor lungs for me. My wife and I left our home in Cedar Rapids Iowa at about 7 30 p.m. on August 4th 2013. It took 8 E oxygen tanks for for me to make the three and a half hour drive to Minneapolis. all of our kids made in to the hospital by 2 AM and at 4 a.m. on the morning of August 5th they took me into surgery. I received bi-lateral double lung transplant and was in surgery for approximately 9 hours. They kept me sedated for about 24 hours after surgery. I woke up the following day in the afternoon and for the first time in a year I was able to breathe room air, Truley a Miracle. The doctors, the nurses the entire transplant team did a fantastic job. I had my final drain tube removed 6 days later and walked out of the hospital with no oxygen.
I celebrated my 3rd anniversary 2 months ago things are going very well. Having an immune suppressed system creates some challenges and it took some time to get my leg strength back. My moto is Everyday Is A Gift! I have resumed my normal activities and am to golf, travel, and spend quality time with kids and especially the grandchildren.
I’m so thankful for the gift of life that I received from my donor family and I encourage everyone to give the gift of life!