Daniel Fitzgibbon (left) with his wife Rachel Dugdale. The Meadow Creek couple are waiting for Fitzgibbon to receive a double-lung transplant. Photo: Submitted

Daniel Fitzgibbon (left) with his wife Rachel Dugdale. The Meadow Creek couple are waiting for Fitzgibbon to receive a double-lung transplant. Photo: Submitted

Kootenay man needs double-lung transplant

Daniel Fitzgibbon is one of 25 British Columbians waiting for the surgery

Five years ago Daniel Fitzgibbon was painting a house when he felt short of breath.

The feeling wasn’t new to him — Fitzgibbon was a smoker who had also been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which leads to swollen and blocked lungs — but this felt different.

“I tried to pretend it was nothing and pushed along,” he says. “It was difficult but I pushed along.”

That turned out to be a bad idea.

Doctors later discovered three blood clots in his lungs. Those were removed, but nodules then developed in both lungs. They weren’t cancerous, but over time did enough damage that he now needs a double-lung transplant.

That type of surgery may sound unique, but in B.C. there have already been 18 double-lung transplants through May 1 according to BC Transplant.

As of May 1, 25 people were waiting for two new lungs. Fitzgibbon is one of them.

The 55-year-old Meadow Creek resident lives on a farm with his wife, Rachel Dugdale. There, Fitzgibbon has been unable to work since 2017 as his condition worsens. He now relies on Dugdale to provide their only income, feed and bath him.

“Farming, as you can imagine, doesn’t pay a lot,” he says.

Fitzgibbon has been told he will likely receive a call for surgery sometime before November. His wait is complicated by his B-positive blood type, which Canada Blood Services says only 7.5 per cent of Canadians have.

The couple have also, hesitantly, started a GoFundMe campaign. Fitzgibbon will have his surgery at Vancouver General Hospital. Because of possible complications, such as the body rejecting the lungs, he will need to live close to the hospital for three-to-six months.

Dugdale says they can’t afford to rent a place in Vancouver while also paying their mortgage in Meadow Creek.

“It’s hard because I know all of our neighbours work hard and to be to be asking for money is tricky, but it’s the double rent. …,” she says. “So it’s something we had to do with a GoFundMe page.”

When Fitzgibbon gets his new set of lungs, the likelihood he makes a full recover is good. BC Transplant says patient survival for double-lung transplants is 90.8 per cent through the first year, and 71.3 per cent over 10 years afterward.

“You start to think about this kind of major surgery, it’s deeply frightening,” says Dugdale. “But I think with the energy Dan has, it’s something we’re willing to take a risk on.”

Fitzgibbon is looking forward to being able to help Dugdale again. Every day he waits by the phone for a call that could save his life.

“I’d sure love the opportunity,” he says. “I’m only 55. These are the years to be working and creating your retirement set up.”

To make a donation to Fitzgibbon and Dugdale, click here (https://bit.ly/2SOxAy4). Visit transplant.bc.ca to become an organ donor.

READ MORE:

B.C. sets records for lung, heart, liver transplants in 2020

Vernon man with double lung transplant arrested for not wearing mask in hospital

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

Prince Charles Secondary School
School District 8 votes in favour of name change for Creston’s high school

In an act of reconciliation, a new name will be chosen for the former Prince Charles Secondary School

A new doctor has been recruited for the Creston Valley. (Pixabay)
New doctor recruited for the Creston Valley

Dr. Luke Turanich is expected to begin practice in late summer/early fall

Author John Vaillant joins Lisa Moore and Fred Wah for Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s Alumni Reading on Friday, July 9. All three authors were featured at the inaugural festival in 2012. Photo: Submitted
FESTIVAL TALES: When 2012 meets 2021

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival will include authors from the event’s inaugural year

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The BC Ferries’ website is down for the second time in one week from what they say is likely an overwhelming increase in web traffic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Surging web traffic crashes BC Ferries’ site again

Website down for second time this week

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ B.C. plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy patbaywebcam.com.
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Most Read