California man receives rare triple transplant

LOS ANGELES (CBS) This Father's Day is especially meaningful for one California man. He's alive thanks to a rare triple organ transplant, after a genetic health condition nearly killed him.

"And this is everyday," said Wayne Darrington, showing the numerous medications he needs to survive -- nearly 30 pills a day to keep his body from rejecting three new organs. "I have life and I'm so grateful for them."

The 57-year old's health issues started more than 20 years ago when he began having trouble breathing.

"When he would come home, it would take him 15, 20 minutes just to get to the front door," said Darrington's wife, Jennifer.

After a lung biopsy, he was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a condition that causes abnormal proteins to build up in organs, eventually causing them to fail.

"There is no cure for hereditary amyloidosis, and the only thing that you really do is when things get worse you get an organ transplantation," Darrington said.

Things did get worse in May of last year. He was admitted to the ER with his heart, both lungs and kidney on the brink of failure. After four months in the hospital he got the call. "They called me on a Wednesday in the hospital room. They said 'We found an organ donor,'" Darrington said.

He received a heart, two lungs and a kidney all from the same donor.

"The number of such procedures in country are a handful per year, if that," said Dr. Abbas Ardehali, who performed part of his rare triple transplant at UCLA. He says cases like Darrington's highlight the critical need for organ donation. "Without the generosity of a donor family at a time of tragedy, we would not be able to do what we do every day."

Darrington knows very little about his donorm, but would like to know more. He wrote the family a letter. "I really let the donor's family know just how appreciative I was for the sacrifice that their loved one made," he said.

He hopes to one day meet the donor's family face to face to say thank you for his new life.