Bilateral lung transplant recipient Adam Wells' quest to raise awareness of organ donation.

A second chance at life

August 2018

Bilateral lung transplant recipient Adam Wells' quest to raise awareness of organ donation.

Bilateral lung transplant recipient Adam Wells' quest to raise awareness of organ donation.

Bilateral lung transplant recipient Adam Wells has joined Sydney Local Health District’s Consumer and Community Advisory Council as part of his quest to raise awareness of organ donation.

Adam, a 47-year-old father of two from Marrickville, spent more than 10 years battling sarcoidosis, a chronic lung condition that left him breathless and eventually unable to walk even a few steps.

As his disease progressed, Adam needed multiple admissions to hospital. Each episode left him with worsening lung function, eventually requiring oxygen, positive pressure breathing support during sleep, immunosuppression and antibiotics, and on one occasion, life support in intensive care.

“I couldn’t sleep in my own bedroom because I couldn’t walk the 16 stairs to get up there,” Adam, who had to give up work as a waterproofer, said.

His only option was a double lung transplant. While on the wait list for a transplant, Adam trained with the RPA pulmonary rehab team to ensure his body was as fit as possible to accept new lungs.

“To do well in transplant you need to be as fit as possible forehand”, RPA clinical physiotherapist Dr Lissa Spencer said.

“Adam had very little remaining healthy lung, but was hugely determined and had held onto a reasonable degree of fitness.”

Adam had a successful double lung transplant in October 2017 at St Vincent’s Hospital. From the outset, Adam’s recovery was remarkable, walking just two days after surgery.

“I hadn’t been able to walk for six years,” he said.

The Consumer and Community Advisory Council is a key consultative and advisory group to the District’s Board. Members provide valuable feedback on improving patient care, consumer and community engagement and participation.

Adam is passionate about raising awareness of organ donation and is particularly focused on educating school leavers.

“In my donor’s honour, I am advocating a change to the way we Australians think about organ donation and registration,” he said.

“Like most people, I assumed that we show our intention to donate by ticking the box on our drivers’ licence, but this is not the case. You have to do two important things to make your intentions clear: register at donatelife.gov.au and make your intentions absolutely clear to your loved ones”.

Post-transplant, Adam continues to train with Dr Spencer and the pulmonary rehab team. The sessions consist of high cardio, weight conditioning and core training and boxing.

He has progressed from being able to take just a few steps to kilometre-long walks and since last November, he has walked more than 2230 kilometres.

In April, he walked the Byron Bay Lighthouse with his wife Nicky and daughters, fulfilling a promise he made to himself when he woke up in ICU following the transplant.

Adam is now training to be the first transplant recipient to walk Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Track. He is working with former NSW and Vietnam Vet MP Charlie Lynn, who has run more than 90 Trekking groups over the past two decades. Mr Lynn is on the Board of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway at Concord Hospital.

Dr Spencer has designed an elite-level training program for Adam. “For something as intense as the Kokoda Track we need to make sure that he’s in the best condition possible,” she said.

For Adam, he is determined to make the most of his second chance at life.

“A beautiful soul left me a very special gift. I will not let them or their family down. None of this was possible without their incredible donation.”

For more information about organ donation and to register, go to donatelife.gov.au

To learn more about Adam, see transplanttrek.com and watch the video here.

To find out more about how you can participate in our local health district, see https://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/ccp.html

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