Organ transplant recipient shares his story - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Organ transplant recipient shares his story

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Vermont has one of the lowest rates for organ donation in the country.

According to Donate Life Vermont, less than five percent of Vermont residents are on the organ donation registry.

Over 117,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant.

On average, 18 people die every day because they did not receive an organ donation.

Chad Kiniry from Plattsburgh was almost one of those statistics.

He has lived with cystic fibrosis since he was a baby. It's a disease that causes mucus to build up in the lungs and it can kill you.

"I'm a mechanic at a golf course, but I went through a double lung transplant this summer," he says.

Talk with Chad Kiniry and you find out quickly he is an adventurer at heart with a will to live that he needed every bit of.

"I'd do anything. I'd rock climb, ride my bike, you know, motorcycle," he says.

Kiniry laughs easily and knows, he has lived on the edge, but not because of any sport. At 33, having blood drawn is the easy part. Three years ago, he was spending half his time in the hospital with failing lungs and decided he would be evaluated for the transplant list. He got on the list last December.

The transplant was July 7, 2013. But a lot would happen before then and he would have Vermonter Lindsay Mold by his side.

"He said to me this is rough," she says.

She knew that, though. Lindsay was Chad's nurse at Fletcher Allen. It was a chance encounter in the lobby one day that changed everything.

"We sat down and were talking," she says. "I don't know, we just kind of both realized, we clicked, I guess. He says he's irresistable and maybe he is."

She has been by his side ever since, and as promised by Chad, it has been rough. She says, it started when a lung infection nearly killed him earlier this year.

"He was unconscious, on a ventillator and we were making all these phone calls to Brigham and Women's and they eventually said, 'we don't want to give him a transplant anymore,'" she says.

A doctor at Fletcher Allen wouldn't give up on him. She knew the director of the transplant program at Mass General and asked him to look at Chad's case. Chad was now off the transplant list and hope was fading.

Reporter: "What was that like for you, that moment when they said, we're taking him off the list?"

"Terrifying," she says.

The doctors at Mass General tried to get him stabilized, but couldn't.

"This doctor came in and talked to me and said, this isn't working, he's dying, but we have this machine that is basically a heart lung bypass," she says.

She says his lungs weren't functioning at all and the doctor said if they were going to get him through they would have to do the work for him. They told her ---

"There's a really good chance that just putting him on this machine is going to kill him, but it's literally the only chance we have. Chad said to me a thousand times, do what you have to do to get me the lungs that I have been waiting for and I asked the doctors, do you think there's a chance that this is going to get him back on the list?" Mold says.

They told her they wouldn't do it if they didn't think there was a chance. They bypassed his lungs, but heart was still working. Which he would need when the machine stopped working after two weeks.

"They said you know, we have one more option here," Mold says. They said we could open it up and stick it right directly into his heart."

But even that would not work for long . He was back on the transplant list, but they hadn't had a pair of lungs donated in awhile.

"We all said, this is what he wanted, so if there's still a chance take him," Mold says.

The surgery was supposed to be four hours, but they got called back just a few minutes after it started.

"We were all preparing for some pretty bad news, instead he said, there's a change of plans. I'm on the way to the OR and I got a phone call and there's a set of lungs for Chad. It was unbelievable, like straight out of a movie," she says.

Chad wouldn't even know he had gotten those new lungs until weeks later and then he didn't even believe it when the nurse told him.

"I kind of try to live everyday to the fullest. I want to make sure that I do the things that I want to do, when I want to do them and not have any regrets," he says.

According to Donate Life Vermont, signing your driver's license does NOT make you an organ donor. You have to sign up on the Vermont organ donor registry to make it legally binding.

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