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It is pretty scary when you can't breathe

By John

At 44 I was diagnosed with emphysema. I realised that I would probably have about three years use left on my lungs-I was going to die.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease meant I had to give up work. It is pretty scary when you can't breathe.

Within two years my condition deteriorated so that lung transplantation was the only option.

On a waiting list I felt a constant fear that I may not last the 18 months for new lungs. The team at St Vincent's were wonderful and gave me hope.

After just one month I received a call. A set of lungs were available and I needed to be at St Vincent's within five hours. I said 'what, now?' and was told 'yes, now, and I'm not joking.'

I was getting new lungs and a new life. I remember waking up in ICU thinking it was the next day but it was three days later. The six hour surgery had gone well. I started life again.

Waking up to take a big deep breath is wonderful. I am living without constantly being sick. I take 20 tablets a day, but that is a small price to pay for the life I enjoy today. Just one year after my transplant I was back at work.

In 2003 to show my gratitude to the medical profession and raise donation awareness, my wife Sue and I walked 140km from John Hunter in Newcastle to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney and raised $5,000 for these hospitals.

This wonderful gift of life has enabled me to see my three children married, experience the wonders of five grandchildren and enjoy 35 years of marriage.