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

Bobbie Crane is overjoyed that her painting Snowy Owls has been accepted as one of the featured pieces in the 2021 Artists For Conservation’s International Exhibit of Nature in Art. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Cariboo artist featured in international art exhibit

Bobbie Crane’s Snowy Owls painting was chosen for AFC’s Exhibit of Nature in Art.

The District of 100 Mile House office. (File photo)
Immigrant entrepreneur pilot program extended

Regional program attracts cotton manufacturer

Canim Lake carver Jerome Boyce was happy to carve a new Secwepemc entranceway for Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
New Secwepemc entrance for Peter Skene Ogden Secondary

Canim Lake carver Jerome Boyce created the piece out of Western Red Cedar

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society invites residents in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel to participate in “Free Your Things” taking place over the Father’s Day weekend. (Mary Forbes photo)
Cariboo Conservation Society co-ordinating “Free Your Things” Father’s Day weekend

Residents can sign up if they have items they want to give away

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

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read