Canadian Lung Association Blog

Larry’s New Lungs: Going from 12% lung capacity to 100%

Larry_post-op_chairIn his last posting, Larry describes receiving a successful double-lung transplant.


After I was stabilized after the 3 days in the ICU (intensive care unit), they moved me to a private room on the 8th floor of the hospital. Hmmm, I didn’t like it as much as the ICU.  The bed wasn’t as comfortable and they had to put a special pad on my mattress because I found it too hard on my back and it was a real pain for my scoliosis.Well, I found out a few things in the next few days.  I didn’t even know my sister had taken the train from Hamilton, after I had called and told her I was on my way to the hospital for my transplant.  She told me she had come and stayed at the hospital all night until she heard the good news that all went well and that I received a double lung transplant and was stable.  The surgeon said there was no reason for her to stay for now, until later when I was transferred out of the ICU.

I was really lucky all went well.  I went from 12% lung capacity to 100% after the transplant.  I was so happy.

My sister and I had everything planned out for my stay in Montreal.  She had managed to discuss her need to be with me, during my recovery with her employer and because she was head of Human Resources, was able to take the time away from the office and actually work off site.  She used her Blackberry to talk to clients, check e-mails, talk to her secretary about meetings and was literally able to work and link up to her office, on the computer at Maison des Greffes (House of Transplants), where we were staying.  I found this amazing that they would accommodate her like this.  Isn’t technology grand these days! LOL  :)

During, the first week on the 8th floor they had found I was allergic to the antibiotic they used during my operation,  so I had to be put back on oxygen and up my prednisone and have another course of antibiotics for a week to stabilize me.  That all went well.

I was very uncomfortable though with all the tubes coming out of me.  There were 2 tubes on my right side and two on my left and I had a smaller tube in my back to deliver pain medication.  They added another tube in my neck.  I bet you can just imagine how uncomfortable that must have been.  It was very difficult to rest or even try to sleep at night.  I had the nurses prop my pillows up and I had to sleep actually sitting up.  The pillows felt like rocks.  It was really difficult to move at all.  The pain meds really helped then.  I was told by some of the other transplant recipients that they saw all kind of scary or weird things while on morphine, but I didn’t.  I was seeing double and some things were blurry though.

One thing happened and I’m not sure, if I was hallucinating or not, but it seemed very real to me.  During the night I was in a lot of pain and was struggling to find a comfortable position sitting up in bed.  It was around 3:00 AM when I felt a presence in the corner behind me to the left.  I turned my head to look and nothing was there, but I still felt that something was there. My back now was in real pain and I was finding it extremely rough to rest and be comfortable enough to get some sleep.

All of a sudden I started to feel what seemed like two small hands on the left and right of my upper back.  They were soothing and were holding me up so the pillows weren’t as hard on my back.  I didn’t know what was happening, but I had a calm feeling.  Then, I remembered my how my Mom used to rub my back when I was a child, when I was having an asthma attack.  Now, I wasn’t feeling the pain anymore at all!  Then, finally I found myself at ease and I was able to fall asleep. In the morning, I still remembered this and tried to rationalise it. I don’t know how many of you are religious or believe this,  but I know the hospital’s name is Notre Dame (Our Lady) and my mother’s name was Mary and she was Roman Catholic.  I told my sister later and she said right away, “That was Mom!” We both cried happy tears. What an incredible experience to say the least.

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Larry Graham

On October 21, 2012 I received a double lung transplant in Montreal after four years of being on supplemental oxygen and being on the transplant waiting list for 22 months. I still say it's a miracle and am trying to repay that miraculous gift everyday by paying it forward and telling my story to help other people waiting for organ transplants.

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