Delivered by Bruce to his church group on Donor Sabbath Day
My name is Bruce Vibbert, and I received a new left lung in April 2014.
Do you know about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)? Did you know that about 40,000 people a year succumb to IPF, about the same number as breast cancer?
IPF is a disease with an unknown cause that affects the ability of the lungs to absorb oxygen. There is no cure. Today a lung transplant is the only option. But there is hope on the horizon, and one day a cure will be found.
I was diagnosed with IPF in 2006, the seventh in my family in three generations to be afflicted. My condition reached the critical stage in early March 2014 and I was formally listed for a lung transplant at Inova Fairfax Hospital.
On April 23 the call came, and Faye quickly delivered me to Inova Fairfax Hospital. After testing of both the donor organ and me, I underwent surgery early that evening. By morning I was awake and began my new life thanks to a caring donor who gave me the gift of life.
I left the hospital nine days after surgery, very weak and able to walk only short distances. Thanks to a dedicated rehabilitation team and some work on my part, I now walk over three a miles a day and my stamina continues to improve. I feel like I can do anything, but then, I still think I'm 20.
All is well so far and I feel great to be alive! But I will take medication to control rejection and infection for the rest of my life. I am careful with what I eat and am astutely aware of the environment and people around me. Contact with hands is one of the more common means of infection transfer, so I am very careful in group settings. Shaking hands is a wonderful cultural practice, but not so good for infection control. I wear a protective mask in some more risky situations.
All the medical stuff pales to the emotional aspects. I've always been positive about my situation, not once being sad or depressed. I have wonderful support from my family, good health insurance and a fabulous medical team. I can focus on my family while working to regain my strength and stamina and find ways to give back.
Much of my rehabilitation was completed at Inova Loudoun Rehabilitation Center. One cannot be blind to the variety of children and adults who are not able to care for themselves. They need help to speak, to walk, to eat. It is a humbling and moving experience that has had a profound impact on me.
If you have not thought about being an organ donor, please consider the life you might save and give someone else like me a second chance. Talk with your family and let your wishes be known. Your decision could save a life.