American Eamonn Kelly has suffered from cystic fibrosis all his life. He used to run for exercise in high school and college but according to article on today.com, as his condition worsened with age the mucous build up in his lungs forced him to carry an oxygen tank at all times, severely limiting what he could do.
Eventually, Kelly stopped running and was relegated to simply walking and using a stationary bike for exercise.
But on November 30th, 2015 at the age of 32, all that changed. Kelly received a double lung transplant.
The current average lifespan for a person with cystic fibrosis is 37, and so in essence the transplant was a new chance at life, which an eager Kelly took to fantastically.
It was all about small steps. At first Kelly walked around the hospital to gain his strength back. Then he started out on a treadmill, clocking about 3 miles an hour.
Reports say that after about 10 days, the science teacher tried some running for 15 seconds at a stretch. And bit by bit, his capacity to breathe grew, which led to this amazing accomplishment.
Exactly 6 months after undergoing his mammoth procedure, Kelly challenged himself to a 5K race, to celebrate his new lungs. Even a month before the race, he couldn’t run 3 miles on the treadmill he says, but then, all of a sudden, everything fell into place.
Kelly completed the race in 38 minutes and 33 seconds, just over his personal record of exactly 38 minutes.
His comments after the impressive achievement?
“I really want to inspire people to think about organ donation,” he said to today.com. “They would have the chance to give someone the same opportunity.”
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, 31,792 lung transplants took place in the U.S between 1988 and 2016 and an average of 22 people die each day waiting for transplants, in general.
For more information on how you can sign up to donate, click here.