Breathing in new life, thanks to the gift of a lung

Man smiling at camera
FSH lung transplant patient John Price. John is pictured below in good spirits after his surgery.
September 9, 2022

John Price is a fit and healthy 76-year-old but 12 months ago, he required surgery to save his life.

Ten years ago, John was diagnosed with a form of interstitial lung disease called pulmonary fibrosis which causes progressive scarring of lung tissue, and in John’s case there was no known cause.

In February 2020, John’s specialist in Bunbury referred him to the Advanced Lung Disease Unit (ALDU) at Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) to commence a clinical trial.

FSH Head of Service Respiratory Medicine Dr Michael Musk said the scarring associated with pulmonary fibrosis eventually affects a person’s ability to breathe and to get enough oxygen into their bloodstream.

“When the disease becomes advanced like in John’s case, there are no good medical treatments, so we do clinical trials to try and develop better treatments for pulmonary fibrosis,” Michael said.

But the clinical trial didn’t result in any significant improvement for John’s pulmonary fibrosis which worsened in early 2021, with him requiring oxygen to survive.

“I love swimming and was able to swim up to three kilometres a session, but when I couldn’t swim 100 metres before running out of breath, I knew something was seriously wrong,” John said.

Early into his diagnosis, John had seen his brother die from the same disease, so when his health declined rapidly and he needed oxygen to breathe, he knew the only way he was going to survive was to have a lung transplant.

In May 2021, John was rigorously assessed for transplantation which saw him go through a series of tests to check his overall health, in order to determine if he was fit enough for surgery.

John was identified as being suitable for either a bilateral (double) or single lung transplant.

“While there is no age limit for transplantation it’s important that patients are assessed as being fit enough for the major surgery they are being put forward for,” Michael said.Man in hospital bed

“John was in great physical condition for his age, very enthusiastic about life and determined to do whatever it would take to care for a new lung, so he was placed on the transplant list.

“Due to his age, we decided that a single lung would suit John better than a double as the recovery from surgery is much easier on the body.”

John received the life-changing call in October 2021. A single left lung was deemed suitable for him.

Fast forward to 12 months later and John is grateful every single day he is alive.

“I cannot thank the staff at FSH enough for the amazing care I received during my surgery and recovery,” John said.

“Their infectious positive attitude is what got me through recovery, and I am so grateful to them for that.”

John is now healthier than he was ten years ago and more importantly, he is back to doing what he loves.

“I can now swim long distance again, I travel and spend a lot of quality time with my wonderful family,” John said.

“I am just so incredibly grateful for this wonderful gift of life and will cherish it until my last breath.”

If you have been touched by John’s transplantation story, consider registering to be an organ and tissue donor here (external link).

Watch John's incredible journey

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