Lung, liver transplant gives man new chance a life

More than 33,000 organ transplants were performed in 2016

CLEVELAND, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – More than 33,000 organ transplants were performed in 2016.

The lungs and the liver are two organs that are commonly transplanted, but they are rarely transplanted at the same time. This man needed both organs … and got them!

A year ago, Robert Fealy was on oxygen 24/7 and could barely breathe.

“It got to where I’d walk halfway to the bathroom, lean on the counter and stop and catch my breath.” Fealy told Ivanhoe.

Robert was born with a genetic disorder known as A1AD, which damaged his lungs.

“I saw him deteriorate so quickly,” Jeanne Fealy, Robert’s wife said.

He needed a lung transplant, but Robert’s liver was also in bad shape.

Kenneth McCurry, MD, Surgical Director of Lung and Heart-Lung Transplantation and Staff Cardiac Surgeon at Cleveland Clinic explained, “We felt that if we did his lung, his lung transplant alone, that there was a very high chance that the liver might fail.”

So, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic decided Robert would need a lung and liver transplant. The surgery is tricky … both organs must come from the same donor, and the liver has to sit on ice while doctors transplant the lungs. Only a handful of these transplants are performed every year.
“It’s a very complex operation to do both, very difficult,” Dr. McCurry said.

But after 12 hours of surgery, Robert had two new lungs and a new liver.

“They took me in, and it was done. I woke up a day later, and I felt great,” Robert said.

He was even singing five days after his transplant. His wife says he never gave up.

“One thing I’d like to tell you, I’d like to introduce you to my Superman!” Jeanne said.

But Robert said the real hero is his donor.

“I’d like to say I’m thankful to my donor every day!” Robert stated.

And thankful he received a gift that gave him a second chance at life.

McCurry said many insurance companies won’t cover a lung and liver transplant because it’s considered a risky procedure. He says patients have actually died because their insurance providers wouldn’t cover the surgery.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.