I had primary pulmonary hypertension so bad that I
could barely make it to the bathroom. At 16, I was put on the
transplant list. Within 14 months, I had two new lungs.
Let’s back up a bit. When I was a kid, I was into karate
and enjoyed riding my bike. Then I started getting pale
and having trouble catching my breath. At 10, I fainted in
Disneyland and once back in Calgary a cardiologist found
my lungs were too small and my heart was overworking to
compensate. That’s a bad combination.
I attended the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. for an
experimental drug trial; after that I tried other medications,
including one through an intravenous pump. But I continued
to deteriorate. I am a guy who likes control and I was out of it
at this point.
The organ transplant call came on Jan. 5, 2005. The
10-hour operation took place in Edmonton. What followed
was pretty gruelling—a month in hospital and three months
of rehabilitation. But I’ve got a great support network and
that helped tremendously. I returned to Grade 12 that fall at
Foothills Academy here in Calgary. After that I went to the
U of C for a degree in commerce. Now, at 25, I’m job hunting.
I take anti-rejection drugs and get monthly blood tests.
Essentially, my immune system needs to be strong enough
so that I am not “Bubble Boy,” but not so strong that it fights
My health outlook
Since a double lung transplant, a Calgary man has
earned a university degree and learned to make a
mean turkey soup
An organ donation gave Rob Sallows a second chance at life.
and have won medals in bowling and pétanque (a French
game similar to bocce) at the Canadian and World Transplant
Games. I’m also a past executive member of the Progressive
Conservative Youth Association. And I’ve taken up cooking
and make a mean turkey soup.
I have been given a second chance and plan to make a
contribution. I’d also like to put a plug in for organ donation.
It is not enough to sign the consent form on the back of
your Alberta Health card; let your loved ones know your
— As told to Colleen Biondi
For more about organ donation, visit the
Human Organ Procurement & Exchange (HOPE) program