April 18-24th is a special week - not only is it National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, but it’s also the 10-year anniversary since Rumble creator Paul Underhill received his life-saving double-lung transplant.
There’s only a 50/50 chance of surviving 10 years after receiving a double-lung transplant in Canada. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Born with cystic fibrosis, I lived an active and athletic life until my 30's, when my health started to rapidly deteriorate. By the time I turned 40 I was on oxygen 24/7, and was unable to walk or even brush my own teeth. Unless I received a double-lung transplant, I had only months to live. Thankfully, I was flown to Toronto by air ambulance, where I received my transplant on April 22nd, 2011 - after only one day on the waitlist.
To celebrate 10 years post-transplant, I’m challenging myself to a 5km run on April 24th, and asking others to join me on Strava.
When I set this goal for myself last fall, I was originally hoping to run 10km, but I had to come to terms with my declining lung function.
Chronic rejection is the main reason half of all double-lung transplant recipients don’t make it to the 10-year milestone. I’ve battled chronic rejection for at least the last five years, but I didn’t realize it was as bad as it was.
A year ago, I was still able to run non-stop for 3K. Now I go for ‘run-walk’ instead. A year ago, I was able to mountain bike, but this year getting up the hill was simply too much of a challenge. I think the final shocker was seeing my oxygen saturation while flying, with my recently purchased oximeter. You generally want to be 95%-99%. I tested against my brother and noticed that he was 97% and I was at 87%!
My goal with this 5km walk/run challenge is to show myself and the world that these lungs - which were the ultimate gift of life - still have plenty of life in them, despite the challenges. I also want to raise awareness about organ donation, and the importance of getting registered. Each year people die waiting for lungs because of the gap between Canadians who want to be registered (80%), and those who take the time to actually do so (about 20%).
I’ve lost several close friends to C.F., including my first girlfriend. Most never made it to twenty. Some of them died while waiting for new lungs that never arrived.
I owe my life to my donor, the medical team and loved ones who helped me survive. This 5km challenge is just one small thing I can do to continue to fight for my health, and get all I can out of every day.
To support Paul, Rumble Supershake is stoked to give an exclusive discount to everyone who participates in Paul’s 5km #LiveLifeRun walk/run challenge in April, through the Strava app. Plus, one lucky winner will receive a year’s supply of Rumble! To participate, join the Strava group and record a 5km walk or run by April 30th.
Are you registered to be an organ donor in your province? It only takes a moment - find out how here.
Read more about Paul's journey and 10-year transplant anniversary on his personal blog, The Rumble Life.