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‘Nothing but celebration’: Kootenay man has successful double-lung transplant surgery

Every day is now a breath of fresh air for Daniel Fitzgibbon.

The Meadow Creek resident is recovering after receiving a double-lung transplant on Jan. 2 in Vancouver.

The Nelson Star wrote about Fitzgibbon in June 2021 after he had been placed on a list of British Columbians requiring two new lungs. Fitzgibbon had three blood clots in his lungs that led to nodules, leading to significant damage.

His wait for a new pair of lungs was also complicated by his B-positive blood type, which only 7.5 per cent of Canadians have according to Canada Blood Services.

Fitzgibbon, 56, underwent a nine-hour transplant surgery and says the transformation has been breathtaking.

“I’ve actually excelled,” said Fitzgibbon on Friday as he prepared to leave Vancouver General Hospital. “There are a lot of people who have to lean on oxygen or maybe still use inhalers. But I have not had to use any oxygen post-surgery.”

Along with his wife, Rachel Dugdale, Fitzgibbon will now stay in Vancouver until April as he continues to recover before returning to their home.

Now that he has new lungs, Fitzgibbon’s prognosis is promising. Patients who undergo double-lung transplants have a 90.8 per cent survival rate through the first year post-surgery, and 71.3 per cent for the following decade, according to BC Transplant.

“We got through a real nervous time, as you can imagine, as a partner and any couple would. We’re through that part and it’s a real load off to get to this point now. Nothing but celebration.”

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