Strange Boat - Organ Donation Awareness

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Jim's story


My name is Jim; I’m a married man from Dublin with a young family of three girls. I was diagnosed four years ago with Fibrosing Alveolitis a name I had never heard of before, Fibrosing Alveolitis is a serious disease that causes inflammation and scarring of the alveoli (the tiny air sacs of the lungs) and lung tissue next to alveoli.

The main symptom is shortness of breath that gradually gets worse. The cause is not known. I was told from the onset that there was no cure. I remember two days before I went into hospital for the initial biopsy I was playing indoor football which is something I did twice a week as I fought off the idea of my late forties approaching. From the time I came home from that biopsy my breathing started getting slightly worse. After a period of about six months things took a downward turn when I started to find it hard to even go for a walk with the girls which is something we all enjoyed. My wife and I are very positive people and we have always kept out best face forward as we made our lives and the lives of the girls as normal as possible. My job thankfully is not overly physical and I was able to keep working at my usual rate. But slowly my breathing worsened to the extent that even a simple thing like cutting the grass was beyond my reach. (I can hear husbands all over the country mutter about blessings in disguise) but the everyday things that any father and husband does have slowly drifted away and my wife who has the strength of many men in her has risen to the challenge terrifically.

It was a little over a year ago when the team in the Mater Hospital in Dublin said they wanted to take me in for a few tests. I went in for a week and at the end of that week I was told that the only remedy for my situation was a transplant. I had read quite a good deal on the subject of transplants so the news didn’t frighten me as much as I thought it would. I went on the Transplant List  March '08 and within six weeks I had my first call but the transplant didn’t go ahead because of a conflict in the match of bloods. We were hugely disappointed and I was released that night and home we went slightly dazed at what had happened and had not happened. I was assured that because of my age and general health combined with the fact that I belong to a common blood group I was a safe bet to get another call and sure enough last November I was called in again. On this occasion there was also another person called in and it was determined that the donor lungs were a better match for the other person so once again we packed our bag and our disappointment and headed off home.

As I write I am waiting for what we hope will be our final call and a successful transplant. What does a transplant, mean to me? I will try and explain like this, on my worst days I look at my wife and family and shake inwardly with fear at the idea of leaving them alone, On my good days I yearn for a time when I can again chase the girls in the garden or walk the local beach with my wife. So the answer for me is easy a transplant means life. Pure and simple. Not just for me but for my family as well.

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