Pulmonary Fibrosis is a lung disease that occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and scared. This scar tissue is thick and stiff, making it progressively more difficult for your lungs to work properly, leading to patients to experience increasing difficulty breathing. David shares his experience managing his disease:

“From 2007 onwards my breathing had got steadily worse and I used oxygen at times during the day. At night, it was no better. I had continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a type of non-invasion ventilation or breathing support."

But what shocked me the most was that I had no symptoms prior to my diagnosis.

“After about 18 months, I was told I would be put on the transplant waiting list. And when I got the call that they had found a donor for me I felt very scared of the unknown, despite being told what to expect”

With 23 years of experience in the military, and years of feeling fit and healthy, the last thing David expected was to be diagnosed in with Pulmonary Fibrosis in 2007. But, by 2010, his health had deteriorated so much that he required a Double Lung Transplant. He shares how his recovery after his transplant surgery at the end of the year in 2010 did not go to plan.

"After receiving my transplant, I was told my donor lungs were contaminated with Swine Flu. I spent time on an ECHMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine to try to give the lungs time to recover and suffered Polyneuropathy with extreme fluid retention with my whole body swelling to twice the size."

“When I eventually woke in the Intensive Care Unit I was unable to move my arms or legs and could not speak. I had a tracheostomy for several weeks and on discharge from ITU to Mallard Ward I had to learn to feed myself, walk, dress myself and general day-to-day activities, which required me to have a high level of care for many months. I was eventually transferred to my local hospital where my rehab continued complicated by recurrent chest infections. On discharge from hospital I was unable to care for myself and relied totally on others.”

Nevertheless, in the years after his transplant David has been determined to improve and become more independent.

“While the transplant saved my life, the recovery produced many hurdles, some that I did not expect. I had to medically retire; using a wheelchair or walking stick until 2016, when I had a knee replacement. But I still suffer with mobility problems due to breathlessness and neuropathy in my feet. I lost my confidence socially due to difficulties with communication. I also suffered with Hypoxia several times during my time on ITU. I take tablets for my mood but even now I struggle to get motivated.

“I am so grateful for the wonderful staff who continued to take care of me. I would not be here without them. Without their care and attention I wouldn’t be able to see my grandchildren grow up. When I first got home after my transplant, my goal was to see my granddaughter reach the age of 5. She is now 11 and I have 3 further grandchildren and a beautiful and caring wife.”

“Despite all my problems, I remain extremely grateful to my donor’s family and am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to live a longer life.  It is really important to have your family with you before, during and after transplant"

The best advice I can give is to remain positive despite any setbacks that you have ... and you will have them.