DOUBLE-LUNG transplant survivor Paul Kirsop went from being told he had two months to live to getting a new lease of life within two days.
Born with a rare blood disorder that affects his white blood cell count and ability to fight infection, the 34-year-old’s lungs were already damaged by the time he was diagnosed at the age of three.
Told he would be able to survive with regular transfusions, at 27 he contracted severe bronchitis, which led to his lungs deteriorating.
Paul’s lung function fell to just 17 per cent and he was left needing 24-hour oxygen to survive.
Struggling to do anything for himself, Paul, dad to Jennifer, eight, and Emma, seven, was told he needed a double-lung transplant and faced a long wait for a donor.
He said: “It was difficult because I couldn’t do much for myself and life had become a struggle.
“I was told it could take a long time for a transplant because in a lot of cases people’s lungs are damaged through smoking and other things.”
After a four-year wait, medics dealt Paul the devastating blow that he only had two months left to live unless a donor could be found.
Paul, of Roker, said: “That came as a shock and was difficult to deal with. I was scared but had gone to the appointment by myself and needed time to deal with it.”
As Paul was coming to terms with the news, two days later, on February 1, 2010, he received the call he had been waiting for – a transplant was available.
He said: “It was a mix of emotions. Relief, fear and disbelief. I felt so lucky because 50 per cent of people don’t get that call.
“I was obviously relieved because they’d found a donor but it was daunting because it’s a big operation and there’s a high risk that transplants don’t work.”
More than two years later and Paul is refusing to let his transplant affect his life.
Last month, he walked away with a gold medal in badminton and a silver in shot put in the European Heart and Lung Transplant Games in the Netherlands.
He is hoping to secure himself more medals when he attends the World Transplant Games in South Africa next year.
Paul, who takes 20 tablets a day and continues with his blood transfusions every two weeks, said: “I feel like I’ve been given a new lease of life. If it wasn’t for the transplant I’d be in a grave now.
“It was incredible taking part in the games, winning the medals and meeting such fantastic people.”
KEZ Greenwood is another transplant survivor who is fighting fit.
The Hall Farm dad was given 36 hours to live after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy
He was placed on the European critical transplant list and in 2008 his life was saved when medics found a match.
Just nine months and one week after having the heart transplant, Kez became two-time British champion in the shot put and discus in the UK Transplant Games and a member of Blaydon Harriers.
Since then the 41-year-old has racked up a clutch of medals.
And he joined pal Paul in bringing a clutch home after the European Heart and Lung Transplant Games, defending his title in shot put and discus and securing a silver in the javelin.
He said: “It’s amazing because there was absolutely no chance I thought I’d be doing this a few years ago.
“Anyone out there who does not have a donor card really should get one.”