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Alastair Henry: Gift Of 8 Campaign

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In January 2019 I went to my GP because I was feeling weak and experiencing shortness of breath. To cut a long story short, I didn’t get the pills I expected. Instead, I was diagnosed with IPF (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) - a degenerative lung disease, given a life expectancy of 12 – 18 months, put on oxygen 24/7 and given a medication called Esbriet to slow down the progression of the disease. Can you imagine how shocked you and your family would be to hear this was your prognosis? Especially the grandchildren because they think their Poppa and Granma will be around forever. We were all stunned and distraught. We all have a best before date but how many of us know what it is? I did. It was July 2020 and knowing that instantly changed my perspective. I visualized the rest of my life as an hourglass. In the top chamber was eighteen months of sand and it was falling into the lower chamber one second at a time, even when I was sleeping. I only had eighteen months max to do whatever I wanted to do in this life. I soon became aware that my fibrosis was progressing faster than I expected because I kept having to go to a higher rating on my oxygen tank to get to a 90% blood oxygenation level. Over Christmas 2019 my family urged me to consider having a lung transplant. I wasn’t immediately in favor of the idea. I thought being 75 was too old to undergo such invasive surgery and besides by then, I’d resigned myself to the fact that I only had 6 months of sand left in the top chamber, and I was okay with that. I looked into it, went onto the wait list in 2020, and after three false alarms, came out of the operating room with two new lungs. I will always remember my first thought as I was wheeled out of the operating room. Wow. I’m still here! Can you imagine how relieved and happy my wife, children and grandchildren were to see me still alive! It was priceless. And now I can continue to be a part of all of their lives and share and celebrate their life journeys.

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