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

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

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

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

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

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the raft regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogan’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

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 Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

Most Read