New Lungs Greatest Gift for Avid Outdoorsman (PKG)

More than a thousand people wait for a lung transplant each year – and Christmas came early for one of them. Meet an Ohio man who received an unexpected gift, just before time ran out.

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CLEVELAND – Charles Mason, 53, of Sagamore Hills, Ohio isn’t taking a single breath for granted.

It’s hard to believe that about two months ago he was fighting for his life, waiting for a lung transplant.

“I got so sick, so quick,” Mason said. “I really didn’t think I’d live to the point of getting the transplant.” 

Mason is no stranger to this journey. His brother and aunt traveled the same road, sharing a genetic lung disease called familial idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

“It’s where the lungs become stiff. It’s harder to breathe; it’s harder for oxygen to get through the lungs and into the bloodstream,” said Mason’s doctor Marie Budev, D.O., MPH, of Cleveland Clinic. “When you have it as a familial form, that means it runs within the family.”

Using oxygen for months, one day Mason couldn’t catch his breath and went to Cleveland Clinic’s emergency department – he was admitted right away and placed on the transplant waiting list.

“It was very critical,” said Dr. Budev. “He rapidly went through a lung transplant workup as soon as he got admitted.”

Charles needed a special machine to pump his heart and supply his body with oxygen; and with just days to live – donor lungs were found.

“Within a couple of days I was off any oxygen,” said Mason. “I felt great. It was amazing, like I’d been born again in a second life.”

Now nine weeks out from transplant, Mason is breathing easy, getting stronger with every step, and grateful for the next.

“I feel very fortunate there was a donor, and I feel it’s also kind of sad because I know somebody died,” Mason said. “Hopefully people will see this and think about maybe checking that box and becoming a donor.” 

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, there are more than 1,000 people waiting a lung transplant.

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