“The morning of August 19, 2013 is a day I will never forget,” says Andy Allen.
The Perth man, born with cystic fibrosis, had a double lung transplant.
Hours before the operation, he says: “My heart was pounding so fast. This was the start of something great.”
Andy had been told he would not live past his 20th birthday.
As a teenager, he was heavily into sport which helped and hindered him.
“I played soccer for 15 years and tried out for the WA squad but didn’t make it. I’ve also played cricket, tennis and basketball which were a good form of physio. I then took on surfing and swimming which bought me some more time but I knew eventually one day I’d be listed for a transplant. I could never get the best out of myself in sport and take it to that next level because my lungs were always holding me back.”
He finished high school in Year 11, his education disrupted by hospital visits of two to three weeks at a time, spent on antibiotics and physio. He completed a hospitality course and worked at The Sebel in Perth, then quit his job to travel Europe.
“But that went all pear-shaped. I flew out to London and my second day off the plane, I got sick. One week later, I was back in Perth and admitted to hospital,” he recalls.
“The last few years before my transplant, I was pretty restricted to what I could do. The little everyday things, like taking a shower, making your bed, cleaning, really was hard. I’d have to stop and rest. I knew the time was coming closer, but being the stubborn person I am I just kept fighting.”
Andy, aged 35, spent six months in Royal Perth Hospital in the lead-up to his transplant.
“It was literally do or die. It was terrifying for me, my family and friends. But I didn’t show it. Deep down I was scared but I put on a brave face for my family so they wouldn’t be upset.
“On August 18, 2013 my doctor came into my room at about 10pm and said “we’ve got a match”. It wasn’t until the next morning they prepared me for surgery.”
Now he says: “Life is fantastic… I’m back into exercise, I go to the gym regularly and have just started back swimming for the first time in about four years. I’m over the moon. Thanks to the advanced lung team, I have a new life and plan not to waste it, they truly are heroes!
Andy is now studying real estate.
“I plan to do some travelling when I get some money together and also attend the transplant games in 2016 and participate in swimming and tennis… I now have a new lease on life.”