AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s a milestone — 500,000. That’s how many organ transplants from deceased donors have been performed in the U.S. since 1987.
More than half of the recipients are believed to still be alive. One of them, Shaun McCabe, is the first person to receive a double lung and liver transplant in Colorado.
CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh caught up with McCabe on Wednesday. It’s a little more than two months since his surgery and McCabe is a different man. He says he’s had no signs of organ rejection. He turned 31 last month but says he feels younger than he did 10 years ago.
On Wednesday McCabe was taking a walk in pulmonary rehab, learning to breathe easier.
“Once I start working out it opens up my airways,” he said.
It’s McCabe’s second set of lungs, and so far they’re working just fine. It’s amazing considering just a year ago he was struggling to stay alive. Cystic fibrosis was finally taking its toll and his lungs and liver were failing rapidly.
“I was only about 87 pounds going into the surgery,” McCabe said.
That was March 10. In a 12-hour operation at the University of Colorado Hospital McCabe was given donor lungs and a liver.
McCabe, from Nebraska, was Colorado’s first ever double lung and liver transplant. Just over two months post-surgery, he’s functioning without oxygen, even at a mile high.
“I’m breathing better than I would have been back in Nebraska,” he said.
McCabe has got more energy and a new outlook. And after making it on CBS4 News, he’s a bit of a celebrity.
“I just get a kick out of how amazing it is to meet complete strangers and have like a positive talk with them,” he said.
If all goes well, McCabe could leave Colorado in June. He is grateful for his doctors and his donor and the chance for a new life.
McCabe has no definite plans but he says he’d like to work again as a radio DJ and hopes to be an advocate for organ donation.