READING A Transplant Surgeon’s Journal . . .

It’s not often that you read or learn something that brings you a completely new perspective.

I am reading a book called, “Breathless: A Transplant Surgeon’s Journal – A Tribute to the World’s First Successful Lung Transplants” by physician, Thomas R.J. Todd.


A colleague lent it to me a while ago, insisting that I would enjoy it. I let it sit for a LONG time and finally one day I was ready. (My boyfriend was apprehensive that the book was positive for me but . . .)

The first day I read it, I was in tears. Not “misty-eyed” either . . . sobbing.

I had thought it would be full of medical jargon and self-congratulatory “doctor business”.

Instead I found a humble and candid “journal” from the doctor’s perspective in a surprisingly human tone. The tribulations and cautious triumphs of the early days of lung transplants at the Toronto General Hospital.

The co-stars of the show, so to speak, are the patients.

Dr. Todd described each patient with obvious love and admiration. Through this book, solidifying their place in the history of lung transplants, for the sacrifice they made so the medical team could learn and build in confidence and success with their program.

I cried because this book showed me that many patients died in early attempts at transplants before things began to go well – protocol and practice-wise. Patients just like me – hoping for a better life.

I am not finished reading yet. I am only able to read a little bit each day – in the morning before I start my day. (As part of my daily positivity ritual.)

From the first day I began reading, I considered that there is someone who could (or perhaps who has) written the same book but from the Kidney Transplant Surgeon’s perspective.

Someone who like, Dr. Todd, cared about people living with disease. Wanted to figure out how to give people the precious hope that more time (and more life) gives. And therein a chronicle of the patients whose lives were sacrificed in order that kidney transplants improve and progress as a treatment for saving the lives of people with Chronic Kidney Disease.

I am moving forward with a different appreciation of the history of organ transplants. From the lung transplant perspective but also from the perspective of kidney transplantation and beyond.

I am so thankful for the doctors and researchers who care so much about the possibility of improving patients lives.

Physicians who dream of solutions.

Who challenge ideas of what’s possible.

Whose bravery improve lives.

Thank you to Dr. Todd for helping me see and understand this perspective. To consider whose broad, brave shoulders I stand on as an organ transplant recipient.

** Remember I had my first kidney transplant in the 90’s and it lasted me 13 years. 🙂

I am especially moved to tears with the reminder that many of these “shoulders” are fellow patients who were brave to take chances with early transplant technology but ultimately whose sacrifice taught medicine so much through their experience.

Thank you. Sending out a seriously heartfelt thank you.

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