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A long road with a happy ending

By Tom

I don't remember a time when I wasn't sick. Being born with cystic fibrosis meant managing a long-term illness became a way of life.

I had spent my whole life in and out of hospital. At 25 I was so ill I had to stop working and my life became two weeks in hospital, one week out.

All the things people take for granted I couldn't do. You lose your independence, your self esteem and the things that make all the difference.

For the next seven years my life was completely on hold. I struggled with everyday tasks and used to look forward to making it to the end of the day.

I went on the transplant list in 2000. Waiting for a transplant is a strange feeling. Not knowing what will happen, what the outcome will be, but hoping things will be different.

While I was waiting, my lungs started bleeding as a result of my condition and my lung capacity dropped to only 10 per cent.

My wife, Leila, can still remember walking into my room as I was holding a one litre bowl half full of blood and there was another full one on the shelf next to me.

I was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital where I underwent a procedure to try and plug the vessel which was bleeding. When I returned home, the doctors couldn't believe I had survived. Then my transplant arrived.

After the transplant, I almost had to learn to breathe again. I started crying because of the thoughts and feelings going through my head - the amazement, you just can't explain it.

Every year I celebrate my transplant. I am so grateful to be alive and 13 weeks ago I became the proud father of a baby boy. I never thought I'd see the day I would get married or have a child. I never thought that would happen to me.

My illness has been a roller coaster ride and there have been some hiccups after transplant, but the positives have far outweighed the negatives.

I am now back at work, have learnt to play the guitar and have been able to travel with Leila.

You can't put a price on what you've been given. I think about the donor everyday.