I signed on the dotted line to add my name to the waiting list for a double lung swap. This was on 30th Sept last year. No one knows how long you may have to wait or even if a suitable donor will ever be found. The tragedy is someone suitable has to die in order for me to get new lungs.
Four weeks after joining the list I was called in to Harefield as they had a possible match. After 7 hours, I was sent home as the donor lungs had failed to pass the transplant clinics strict criteria.
On the evening of 12th November I was called in again. This time the donor lungs were good and in the early hours of Tuesday 13 th, I received a double lung transplant.
What followed was extremely difficult for my wife and family as I spent almost 2 weeks heavily sedated in the ITU unit. However, once that episode was over, I spent 5 weeks in the transplant Hdu ward before finally coming home yesterday, 7 weeks and 4 days since the transplant.
As an Emphysema sufferer, it takes a while to feel the real benefit of new lungs as the shortness of breath is replaced by incredible muscle weakness, exacerbated by so many inactive weeks in bed.
However, my FEV1 reading is 3 times better and I walked for 6 mins non stop with little change in my breathing and oxygen staying at 98%. I am told this should continue to improve for 6 months to come.
Transplant should be treated as a final throw of the dice, but when you reach that time, if you are a suitable candidate, don't hesitate. You have a lifetime of pills afterwards, but the quality of life improvement is worth all the risks. I'm not out of the woods yet, but getting home has been a massive boost and I am hoping for continued improvement and a few years of normal quality life.
I would like to thank a praise the skill of Dr Carby and his transplant team and the care and consideration of all the staff at the wonderful Harefield Hospital Transplant Unit in Hertfordshire
Good luck to all of you with COPD.