DENVER (CBS4) – The doctors had pulled Tony Hammes’ wife and father aside and started talking about options because he had just days to live, then an organ donor changed everything.
“I like to say he’s with me all the time,” said Hammes.
For years, Hammes had been fighting with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, an unusual condition that creates scar tissue in the lungs. Medication had helped at first, but eventually it wore Hammes down and he got on the donor list. He doesn’t know who his donor was, just an age and a gender.
“As we’ve recovered he’s the one that’s brought me along. He’s brought me my second life,” Hammes said.
It wasn’t long before Hammes was back to doing normal things. A joke with a neighbor got him to the starting line of the 2018 Bolder Boulder.
“It became almost spontaneous but it was way more fun to be able to say, we did the Bolder Boulder eight months after surgery instead of a year plus eight months,” he said.
Now Hammes is sharing his story as much as possible. On Wednesday, he was part of a panel along with Olympian Chris Klug. Klug, a liver recipient, has been encouraging people to sign up to become organ donors through his foundation.
“I think of him very much as a family member. He’s with me every day and we walk through life together because of him,” Hammes said about his donor.
Tony is quick to deflect praise about his recovery away from himself.
“I’m the end result, I’m the miracle of really everybody else’s’ story,” Hammes said.
He credits his wife and father with taking care of him for months, and is quick to point to the countless doctors and nurses at the University of Colorado Hospital who took part in his recovery.
“I get to be here and I’m pretty proud to walk because of them,” Hammes said.