New lungs gave Gary new life and more time for love and laughter

Organ recipient Gary poses with family member

1994 was a tough year for me. After battling with four rough runs of pneumonia, I finally decided to quit smoking. The following year, however, was full of joy for me. On July 2, 1995, I married my sweetheart, Connie. Our newlywed bliss was short-lived and in November of that year, my doctors diagnosed me with Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Immune Deficiency. My lungs were being destroyed by this disease, and we were faced with daily IV treatments and a frightening diagnosis.

In 1997, I had to go on oxygen at night and talk began about a lung transplant. Merely two years later I was placed on the waiting list. We uprooted our lives in Morganton, NC, and relocated to Durham to be closer to Duke Hospital. After several false alarms and trying times, on March 19th, 2003, at 8am, the call came. We headed to the hospital for new lungs and a fresh start.

Thanks to that donor’s lungs, we now share a happy, active life. We enjoy time with our children, grandchildren and our sweet dog. I love riding my motorcycle and recently was surprised by my daughter with tickets to see one of my all time favorite performers, Ted Nugent. We both love the time we spend volunteering with HonorBridge and enjoy showing everyone tangible proof that transplants truly do save lives.