I remember it well. It was in February of 2009, when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After a successful surgery, I noticed that I was experiencing shortness of breath and was rushed into surgery to find I had a very rare form of lung disease.
Dr. Arcasoy agreed to treat me in January 2010, and informed me that a lung transplant was inevitable, probably within 2 or 3 years. Under his care and attention, I continued my life and followed his direction.
Five years later, in early 2015, my condition worsened, I was weak and losing weight and I was developing serious pulmonary hypertension. Dr. Arcasoy stepped up my care and let me know that the time for transplant was coming fast. I was really scared but felt prepared and was actively listed for transplant in April 2015.
With the shortage of lungs, and my health diminishing, I was hoping to make it to transplant. Three months and one “dry run” later, I got the life extending call – a day that I’ll never, ever forget! It was hard for me to believe that after almost 6 years of living with disease and living an abbreviated life, I was able to breathe normally…immediately after transplant!
My post – transplant life to date has been extraordinary but not without it’s challenges. Being so immune suppressed, presents all new sets of problems. Lung rejection and infection are the new realities that I must live with. I virtually traded one set of medical problems for another set. I know that rejection and setbacks are a real everyday thread. It is now all on me to protect my new lung and enjoy my “new” life the best I can.
While the research to date has been miraculous, the reality is that 50% of all lung transplant patients pass within five years from rejection and/or infection. I think about that number every day –5 years. It’s not a lot of time.
That’s why, it is so important that we support the ongoing research to reduce rejection and infection, so we can extend lives for all transplant patients. Please do whatever you can to support The Lung Transplant Project and their wonderful mission. In addition to supporting the research for rejection and infection, they have partnered with www.organize.org to encourage more people to become donors. A donor can save up to 8 lives and we desperately need to shorten our waiting lists.
I want to thank my donor, my surgeon, doctors and transplant team and my courageous daughter Allie, who have been with me through every step of this amazing journey. I couldn’t have done it without them.