The Breath of Life

August 5, 2014

Four years ago last February I (Tom Capper) was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). This disease has been in my family. IPF is a disease marked by scarring of the tissue inside the lungs. When the scar forms, the tissue becomes stiff and thicker. This makes it harder for oxygen to pass through the air sacs into the bloodstream. Once the lung tissue becomes scarred, the damage can’t be reversed. Beyond a lung transplant, there is no effective treatment for IPF.

Last July 25th, my doctor arranged an interview with the lung transplant team at IU Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. I had been on oxygen for two years, but I was increased to 10 liters of oxygen just for a single breath. To prepare for surgery, an aggressive plan of rehab was established by the transplant center in cooperation with my local hospital’s pulmonary department to gain as much strength as possible. In early November, after many tests, I was listed #1 for transplant. I was then on 15 liters of oxygen and time was running out.

At 11:45 Christmas night (12.25.13) I received a miracle call from the transplant team saying they had a match for me. My family and I were elated, but knowing another family somewhere was planning a funeral made our joy surreal. What a tremendous gift. Two weeks after the lung transplant, I walked out of the hospital oxygen free. Unbelievable!!

I am now 7 months out and recovering nicely. There have been a few bumps in the road, but the transplant team is on top of every obstacle. I am enjoying my family and friends and especially a great grandson who was born on May 9th. I am very thankful for the IU transplant team (I am a Purdue alum, HA!!) and their terrific doctors, nurses, and coordinators. We are so thankful to the 1st Choice team and their families, my family and friends, and the many churches that prayed for us and especially the donor family whom I hope to meet someday. This has been a miracle from God and I hope each person that reads this will become a donor if not already. A wonderful family gave me the “Breath of Life,” which we will always cherish.

-Tom Capper, Seed Specialist

To learn more about sharing HOPE through organ and tissue donation, visit the Donate Life website.