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February 2021

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Lung transplant recipient Barry Leicester.

Lung transplant a bridge to an active life

A Newborough resident is breathing easier after a lung transplant saved his life.

Barry Leicester, 71, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis four years ago, damaging his lung tissue and leaving him short of breath.

‘Some nights I woke up and felt like I couldn’t breathe – I’d have to turn my oxygen back on,’ Mr Leicester said.

‘I knew the only chance I had was a lung transplant.

‘It was I either get a lung or that was it.’

The former fitter and turner was initially told he was ‘too old’ to be eligible for a transplant.

But, thanks to guidance from his GP and the healthcare teams at Latrobe Regional Hospital and Latrobe Community Health Service, Mr Leicester was placed on the waiting list in January, 2020.

He started an exercise program with Latrobe Regional Hospital and received respiratory education from Latrobe Community Health Service.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, his health took a turn and he was admitted into palliative care.

‘When he got really sick, even going to answer the door was an effort – he was exhausted all of the time,’ said LCHS respiratory educator Karyn Thomas.

‘The LCHS palliative care team managed the medical side of things, while the allied health team at LRH took care of his exercises.

‘I was available for any support or advice Barry needed.’

Mr Leicester began putting his affairs in order, including selling his house.

Then he received a phone call that would save his life.

‘Alfred Hospital called and said they had a match,’ Mr Leicester said.

Following the transplant Mr Leicester spent two weeks in intensive care, another two weeks in the ward and then two months in Melbourne as an outpatient.

He is now back in Newborough, getting ready to start exercise and breathing rehabilitation with Ms Thomas and the integrated primary health services team at LCHS.

‘I’m much more active now,’ Mr Leicester said.

‘I can go anywhere I want – I can walk anywhere and go fishing.

‘I appreciate everything my healthcare team has done for me.’