I had primary pulmonary hypertension so bad that Icould barely make it to the bathroom. At 16, I was put on thetransplant list. Within 14 months, I had two new lungs.
Let’s back up a bit. When I was a kid, I was into karateand enjoyed riding my bike. Then I started getting paleand having trouble catching my breath. At 10, I fainted inDisneyland and once back in Calgary a cardiologist foundmy lungs were too small and my heart was overworking tocompensate. That’s a bad combination.
I attended the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. for anexperimental drug trial; after that I tried other medications,including one through an intravenous pump. But I continuedto deteriorate. I am a guy who likes control and I was out of itat this point.
The organ transplant call came on Jan. 5, 2005. The10-hour operation took place in Edmonton. What followedwas pretty gruelling—a month in hospital and three monthsof rehabilitation. But I’ve got a great support network andthat helped tremendously. I returned to Grade 12 that fall atFoothills Academy here in Calgary. After that I went to theU 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 enoughso 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 Frenchgame similar to bocce) at the Canadian and World TransplantGames. I’m also a past executive member of the ProgressiveConservative Youth Association. And I’ve taken up cookingand make a mean turkey soup.
I have been given a second chance and plan to make acontribution. I’d also like to put a plug in for organ donation.It is not enough to sign the consent form on the back ofyour Alberta Health card; let your loved ones know yourwishes.
— As told to Colleen Biondi
For more about organ donation, visit theHuman Organ Procurement & Exchange (HOPE) programat albertahealthservices.ca/4908.asp.