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John's story

A set of lungs were available and I needed to be at St Vincent's within five hours

At 44 I was diagnosed with emphysema. I realised that I would probably have about three years use left on my lungs-I was going to die.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease meant I had to give up work. It is pretty scary when you can't breathe.

Within two years my condition deteriorated so that lung transplantation was the only option.

On a waiting list I felt a constant fear that I may not last the 18 months for new lungs. The team at St Vincent's were wonderful and gave me hope.

After just one month I received a call. A set of lungs were available and I needed to be at St Vincent's within five hours. I said 'what, now?' and was told 'yes, now, and I'm not joking.'

I was getting new lungs and a new life. I remember waking up in ICU thinking it was the next day but it was three days later. The six hour surgery had gone well. I started life again.

Waking up to take a big deep breath is wonderful. I am living without constantly being sick. I take 20 tablets a day, but that is a small price to pay for the life I enjoy today. Just one year after my transplant I was back at work.

In 2003 to show my gratitude to the medical profession and raise donation awareness, my wife Sue and I walked 140km from John Hunter in Newcastle to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney and raised $5,000 for these hospitals.

This wonderful gift of life has enabled me to see my three children married, experience the wonders of five grandchildren and enjoy 35 years of marriage.

Nicky Burton