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Heart & double lung recipient
When I was 17 years old, I found myself getting short of breath while playing high school volleyball. A specialist diagnosed that I had ‘Primary Pulmonary Hypertension’. The only known remedy was organ transplantation, and to add my name to a waiting list. Upon hearing this, I walked out of the room and wanted to return home immediately. Being young and stubborn, I did not want to believe that it was as serious a condition, and did not want to discuss it any further.
As the disease progressed, my condition deteriorated. I was prescribed blood thinners to somewhat alleviate the symptoms. I later required assisted oxygen intake at all times. The slightest exertion such as untying my shoes became extremely difficult. I had to untie one shoe at a time, pausing in between to catch my breath. My lips, nose, cheeks and extremities would turn blue for lack of oxygen. Climbing even a short flight of stairs or walking up the slightest incline proved to be impossible. With that, I finally agreed to be put on a waiting list for a heart-lung transplant.
Almost one year later, I received my call late in the evening. Living in Northern Ontario, London University Hospital instructed me to go to the local airport in Elliot Lake. An Air Ambulance would pick me up and fly to London. I called a friend with whom I had prior arrangements to drive me to the airport. I was shocked when we arrived there, only to find it closed and the gate locked. The plane was due to land soon and there was no time to waste. We rushed to the Police Station, which was about 10 miles away to explain the urgency of the situation. Luckily, the officer contacted an off-duty airport staff member to be on site to turn on the runway lights. The plane landed, and I was then off to London. I was very calm and put my fate in God’s hands – whatever the outcome.
After 13 hours of surgery, I was awakened and was overwhelmed to see that my lips, nose, cheeks and extremities were back to a normal, healthy looking colour.
In 2005, I celebrated the 8th transplant anniversary. I will always be grateful to my donor and to God for my second chance at life.