Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
The Brooklyn Bridge leading to a pair of lungs

New Lungs!

Sometimes I fantasize about having new lungs. Seriously. I’ve applied for a lung transplant and I’m making progress.

Catch-22 situation

But, it’s kind of a “Catch-22” situation if you’re familiar. You have to be sick but you can’t be too sick. Your forced expiratory volume (FEV) numbers have to be pretty low. As I’m sure you know, FEV measures how much air you can exhale during a forced breath. The amount of air exhaled may be measured during the first (FEV1), second (FEV2), and/or third seconds (FEV3) of the forced breath. In other words – just having COPD doesn’t quite do it.

Damanged lungs, healthy body

And while your lungs obviously must be damaged, the rest of your body has to be in pretty good shape in order to sustain the actual transplant. Your heart, your circulation system – there’s a number of factors and examinations that are taken into consideration before you “make the list.” And since COPD is progressive, we’re hoping it’s just a matter of time before I make the list and a donor is sought.

Picturing better breathing

In the meantime, on a cloudy fall day, when I’ve finished reading a book or The New York Times and my mind wanders, I picture a number of things involving much-improved breathing. I was never a big athlete. I ran track in high school – cross country and the quarter-mile. That’s how long ago it was. The quarter-mile is now the 400 meters event. I enjoyed it but, I wasn’t very good at it.

We were an urban, boys Catholic High School so there was no place for a football field – and so no place for football. And our baseball team was very good and only those particularly blessed with athleticism could play. So, the rest of us either joined the Drama department or ran track. I can remember being able to run almost 5 miles (x-country) at a good clip without getting particularly “winded.” And I did that for freshman and sophomore years. Then I started smoking. And that was that.

Walking and biking

But I walked. A lot. That was one of the city’s advantages. You could always get where you wanted because most friends and places you wanted to see were “within walking distance.” Once in a while, you might take public transportation – bus or a subway – but that cost $.75 and that could be spent on pizza and a soda. And even though it was Brooklyn, we were within a 30-minute bicycle ride to the Atlantic Ocean.

So, when you didn’t walk, you rode. And the 10-speed bike became your best friend. You could get anywhere on it and it was yours as long as you remembered to lock it up securely. It was Brooklyn in the 70s after all. There was nothing sweeter than having ridden 20 minutes through the heat and traffic of city streets until you got to the base of the bridge that took you high up over and across the bay and towards the ocean.

You could smell the salt-water in your nose and felt it in your lungs. And it seemed to empower you to make those grueling last 10 minutes up an extremely steep incline and over the bridge to the beach and waters of the Atlantic. And if you were really, really lucky, someone had a car that you could throw your bike into for the ride home. If not, and you had to ride, the incline was less on the return trip and most of the heat had disappeared with the setting of the sun.

I’m not getting my hopes up too high. But I know what I’d like to do if everything works out!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • cher1215
    5 days ago

    Kevin,
    Have you looked into endoscopic lung volume reduction with either the Zephyr or Spiration valves? http://www.mylungsmylife.com for Zephyr and http://www.spiration.com for Spiration. This is a minimally invasive procedure for severe emphysema with hyperinflation of the lungs. Best of luck.

    Cheryl

  • KevinDavitt author
    4 days ago

    Cheryl – Hi. I had LVRS about 5 years ago but its effects were only temporary for me. That’s why I continue to pursue the transplant.
    But- thank you.

    Kevin

  • EAT2017
    2 weeks ago

    Kevin,

    You might be interested in this link that came out 10/31/2019 by NHLBI titled.

    NHLBI IN THE PRESS
    Studies harness emerging techniques for lung regeneration

    October 31, 2019
    https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/2019/studies-harness-emerging-techniques-lung-regeneration

    Of course anyone else interested as well.

  • KevinDavitt author
    1 week ago

    Elizabeth Ann – love the name explanation! Here’s my take on advocacy:

    https://copd.net/living/own-best-friend/

    KD

  • KevinDavitt author
    2 weeks ago

    EAT2017 (what does that mean?) – thank you. Love this stuff. Please keep it coming.

    Sincerely,
    DRINK1972!

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 week ago

    Hi EAT2017 (Elizabeth Ann Thomas), and thanks for sharing the explanation of your screen name “EAT” – that’s pretty good stuff!
    You make a very good point about being one’s best own self advocate! That tends to work quite well for managing this condition. I thought this article might provide some additional insight for this topic: https://copd.net/living/advocacy-importance/. I do hope you find it to be helpful to read.
    Wishing you well,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • EAT2017
    1 week ago

    Haha Elizabeth Ann Thomas, my name. When I was working and had a message from my kids, my co-workers would write ET phone home. I have a Twitter acct, and starting following NHLBI National Heart Lung Blood Institute. I started getting links to the latest. So, of course when I see something that piques my interest I can go read about. Of course they are not always written so I can understand but I keep learning new things all the time. One thing I’ve learned about having COPD is you have to be your own advocate. So… when I see things, I ask.

  • TTee
    2 weeks ago

    Kevin, I really liked your post. Well-written and I could almost smell the salt in the air. God bless you! I’ve often fantasized about having fresh new lungs as well. I’m afraid that’ll never happen, not because I would be ineligible, but because I fear the transplant survival statistics don’t really impress me yet. I know there’s been a lot of progress made and there’s even a new procedure being used at Temple University that I’d like to look into. I’m also hoping that more stem cell research can be done to create a better survival rate. Best wishes and good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  • KevinDavitt author
    2 weeks ago

    TTee – I actually started off at Temple. Wonderful bunch of people.
    The problem was post-op you have to be examined more than once a week sometimes and some folks actually move nearby fir that purpose.
    That’s out of my price-range.
    Columbia-Presbyterian is about 30 minutes away and has an excellent program as well. Hoping to get in their list.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Good geographical point, Kevin!!
    Ahhhh, Washington Heights – my wife hails from that area of ‘upstate Manhattan’!!
    Good to hear from you!
    Leon (site moderator)

  • KevinDavitt author
    2 weeks ago

    Leon – thanks. Washington Heights or as my Dad used to call the neighborhood – upstate Manhattan.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Kevin – I’ve heard really good things about Columbia Presbyterian, in upper Manhattan, for many, many years, both currently and all the way back to the early 1970’s. I am hopeful you will do well there! Warmly, Leon (site moderator)

  • Sharyn
    2 weeks ago

    I’m in same place. Actually. I’ve been approved but as you go through the process they give you things to think about. I was told that even if I get a lung, there is no guarantee that I would be able to get off oxygen. Also, the postoperative cost for lifetime medication is astronomical. So I’m in limbo, ready to list but not sure it’s worth it now.

  • KevinDavitt author
    2 weeks ago

    Sharyn – was curious about “the postoperative cost for lifetime medication is astronomical.”
    Can you share with us what the figure is?

    I may be facing a similar decision soon.

    Thanks.

  • EAT2017
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Kevin,

    Years ago when I was evaluated at a top hospital in North Carolina, I was told my medications could be around $5000 per year. I believe that was with insurance I had which was and still is Medicare. At the time I was in process of divorce and was going to lose my trucker for life which would have been a secondary insurance. But they wanted me to set aside $5000 to cover a few years. Also I was told if everything went well I could potentially lose my insurance benefits especially if I was doing well enough to return to work. At the time there was a lot going on politically so they warned about the possibility of losing coverage due to pre-condition if I changed insurance. And lastly they mentioned the possibility of losing insurance in future if it were lung transplant related, because it was a voluntary surgery. So, that is additional information from that particular hospital. I do not know if it is like that with all hospitals or insurance. Hope this info helps you.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Sharyn, and thanks for your post. I will echo what my colleague, Lyn, has suggested to you. These are big, big decisions, not to be taken lightly, and can benefit from a lot of thought before any decision is made. Ultimately, of course, the decision is yours. If there is anything we can do – even if it’s for you to vent or share your thoughts here, we’ll be happy to provide whatever we can to assist.
    I wish you good luck – please do check back and let us know how you’re progressing!
    Warmly,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Sharyn – It sounds like you have a lot to think about. It’s a big decision with many pro’s and con’s. I guess you have to weigh them all and decide what’s best for you. Please know we’re thinking of you and hope you can come to a decision without too much grief. I find that with those “big” decisions in life, it’s often a relief to finally just make up your mind and move forward – whichever you decide.
    Take Care – Lyn (site moderator)

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    I really enjoyed this article, Kevin. You put it in terms that (I imagine) only a person “living with it” could accomplish. I’m sure there are many in this community who can relate. John. Site Moderator.

  • KevinDavitt author
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks John. I really enjoyed your piece on advocacy as well.

  • Poll