Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 4 months old
Michael always knew he would need a transplant. With no major problems most his life, he had his first major hospital visit related to cystic fibrosis on 9/11/2001. He sat in the hospital bed and watched everything happening in our country and at that moment was inspired to become a fire fighter. Although Michael was going through a scary time in his own life, he also knew thousands of people were just as scared from the attacks on the twin towers.
With his dad being a cop for more than 20 years, a spirit of service ran in his family. He’s been a firefighter for 3 years but it wasn’t an easy road getting there. It was extremely hard, even for a person without cystic fibrosis. So it took a lot of passion, dedication and drive to reach this achievement. Looking back, Michael believes that out of tragedy came triumph. Preparing to be a firefighter helped to keep him healthy for longer and physically prepare for a transplant. This made him the person he is today.
After training to be a firefighter he soon needed his first pick line, then became more ill. Between then and the time of his transplant he was hospitalized at least twice a year, a minimum of 2 weeks at a time. In February of 2016, an x-ray revealed he had a collapsed lung. He needed a chest tube and would have to spend the next few days in the hospital.
At his follow up appointment one month later in March, the doctor found a spot on his lung related to the prior collapse. He was put on oxygen and in the hospital for almost three weeks. At this point he could no longer work and needed a transplant. His doctor suggested he try to get listed in Toronto, Duke, Pittsburg, and Cleveland. Duke immediately put him on the transplant evaluation list. He was listed on August 12th and received his transplant on August 22nd. Everything moved quickly for Michael, but he says it seemed like forever.
His parents were able to be with him the entire time. He started to feel much better after 2-3 months. Today, Michael says if someone were to wipe his memory, he would have no idea had cystic fibrosis or a transplant. Organ donation has allowed him to get back to where he needs to be in order to serve others. He is forever grateful for his donor. Although most donors don’t physically get to see their organs saving lives, he knows he’s still able to be a serviceman because of his donor.
He hasn’t had any rejection and just celebrated his 6 month transplantversary. He spent 8 months in Durham and was finally able to go home last week. He will soon be able to get back to firefighting later this summer.
Michael encourages everyone to register to be a donor and sign up for the Donate Life NC 5k. Although he might not be ready to run the 5k, he’s rooting for all the participants! It’s a wonderful way to celebrate organ, eye, and tissue donation and the gift of life.
The race is March 25th and there’s still time to register!