Glenn Leno

(Double Lung Transplant)
2nd Anniversary – My journey so far

In late 2001 I was diagnosed with chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD) and at this time it was decided we would return to Melbourne to live after 15 years at Cowes, Phillip Island Vic. I was able to control my medical condition until the untimely death of our son Adam at 22 years of age (who was a donor). In September 2002 this led to a lot of emotional and health problems which due to my condition (COPD) only helped to start me on a downhill slide.

This condition was controlled by the Northern Hospital COPD Clinic until mid 2004 when things started to deteriorate rapidly. From mid 2004 until mid 2005 I was admitted to Hospital six times with lung infections, and finally admitted in June 2005 in a serious condition.

After admittance I unfortunately suffered a pulmonary arrest and woke up five weeks later in Ward 5 West at the Austin Hospital. I was later informed that during this period I was revived on numerous occasions and had a C02 level of 128% which turned me into the original elephant man. All during this time it was the love of my wife Ruth, daughter Kim and especially my granddaughter Ebony, along with family, who spent many hours in the ICU Departments of Northern and Austin Hospitals and whose strength helped me to get though this period.

At the Austin Hospital I awoke to discover that I had had a tracheotomy and had the pleasure of its company for two months relying on this and machines to keep me alive. My main memory of this time are ones of frightening nightmares due to the effects of all the drugs. I was finally allowed home from the Austin Hospital on 13 September 2005 - a very special day for me as I was told this would not happen, but it did and I then started on a new journey. Several conditions were placed on my return home, the worst was the presentation to me of a new sleeping partner, a V-Pac machine which was needed to control my C02 levels, the other was that I continued my rehab sessions at the COPD Physiotherapy Clinic two days a week.

At this time I was in a wheelchair and on bottled oxygen, and again it fell on my wife Ruth and sister Sandra to run a shuttle service to and from the Austin Hospital. Without this devotion I would never have been able to do this. An appointment was made for me to attend The Alfred Transplant Clinic and to have Dr Snell advise me whether I would be eligible for a double lung transplant. Like all patients I then had to do the work up tests in hospital and I did this in May 2006.

At this time I kept doing my rehab sessions at the Austin whilst awaiting advice as to whether I would be placed on the Transplant List. However, in September 2006 I had extreme problems breathing at my rehab session and had to do a Blood Gas Test. It was found that my oxygen levels had dropped to a dangerous level. I returned home and had reached a time when just breathing seemed to be beyond me. I was on a high level of oxygen but it did not seem to help me at this time. I think I reached my lowest point and I could see the concern registering on my wife’s face. I knew the end was coming.

Only two days later at 4 am on the Thursday I received the magical telephone call telling me to come into the hospital for a transplant. At this point I thought I was on a trial run but was then told that they had a donor for me. It took my wife and I awhile to recover from this news and to get ready to go.

On arrival at The Alfred we were met by Kylie and taken in to be prepared. At this time I can only state that the care and understanding we received from all the staff was nothing short of fantastic and helped me to prepare for the operation with a great peace of mind and confidence – and for this I thank all concerned.

After the operation I awoke to an emotional high I did not think you could reach just through the joy of finding that for the first time in years I could breathe without any assistance. This was the first of many tears of happiness I was to shed. After a few days in ICU I had improved enough to be moved to all of us Lung Patients favourite place – Ward 5 East. At this time I learned that I now had a new ‘organ brother’ who had received the heart from the same donor, and a new and long friendship has developed between Greg and I and it will only continue to become stronger.

Like all post transplant patients as I was recovering I was introduced to the Physiotherapy Department where Lou Lou and the staff proceeded to pound all of us into shape at rehab. I returned home in a state of great wellbeing and enthusiasm to face all the challenges ahead. I suffered some minor setbacks with infections and at one stage thought I was ‘going steady’ with my IV machine and my chrome stand called Peggy, as I was having IVs twice a day at home for about two months. It seems that my infection was behind the wires holding my sternum in place, but after surgery to remove the wire I started to improve rapidly.

Unfortunately at this time my skin cancers that I had always suffered from got away from me and in the two years since my transplant I have had many operations and skin grafts to patch up, but the good news is that this has now all stabilized and I seem to be over this hurdle.

My health has continued to improve and as I celebrate my 2nd Anniversary I have returned to work part time and had the great pleasure of playing 9 Holes of golf pushing my buggy for the first time in eight years. I have also joined the local YMCA and do a two hour workout three times a week and have found this to be very satisfying. Along my journey I have been fortunate to meet many wonderful people and developed friendships with them. My involvement in the Trust has only added to my enjoyment.

Like all Transplant patients I will be forever grateful to the donor and family for their most generous and life saving gift which has enabled me and my new brother to have a chance at a new life.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff at The Alfred Transplant Clinic and all the other Clinics I visit for check ups and treatment for their assistance in my recovery. I also thank my loving wife Ruth, daughter Kim and granddaughter Ebony for all their help, love and support throughout my journey.

I am pleased to have reached my 2nd Anniversary and plan to celebrate many more in the years to come.

Glenn Leno
Transplant No. 1070