Last year, doctors told 29-year-old Kieran Treacy from Ardfert, Co Kerry, he could die within five years unless he underwent the transplant.
At the time, he was spending three hours a day in physiotherapy and was breathing at night with an oxygen machine.
“I knew I was getting worse but I never let it on to my friends. My family knew, I suppose, because they could see that I was deteriorating,” Kieran said.
On November 5 his beeper went off. “My mother heard it and rang me on my mobile. You have to reply to the hospital within half an hour, otherwise the lungs go on to someone else. We got a garda escort through Tralee, which was a good thing because the town was banked up at 6pm.”
The Freeman hospital in Newcastle sent a private plane to Kerry airport to meet him. At 2am the next morning, two teams, including eight doctors and 12 nurses, carried out the operation.
“I had to spend five weeks there in case there was any complications. But it was such a feeling to walk after the operation. Before, I couldn’t do a hundred yards. I haven’t felt this good since I was 13,” he said.
Kieran, who was born with cystic fibrosis, cycled two and a half miles yesterday and intends to increase it to 10 miles.
“Six miles is the recommended distance to build up the lungs but the more exercise, the better. And playing hurling is definitely on the cards too.”
But Kieran is anxious to increase the awareness of organ donation.
“I have two friends in Kerry who are waiting for the same operation as me. It’s a thing that can hit any family and if people were more aware of organ donation, they’d carry donor cards,” he said.