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Andy R., born 1992. The merchant from Bern has been living with a new lung since 2009.

“Sometimes I sit down and just breathe – deeply, in and out. That’s when I feel alive. A life that was given back to me a good six years ago now. I was 17, and I’d been suffering from a strange form of pulmonary vascular disease for two years. I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. None of the treatments with medication had any lasting effect. I was almost permanently in a wheelchair. By the time the doctors put me on the transplant list, I could barely sit up straight.

Then I finally got the call I’d been hoping for: the doctors had found a lung for me. I summoned all my strength for the operation to come. Nobody thought I’d be anaesthetized for a whole week. I never knew that the donor lung turned out to be unhealthy. That the doctors didn’t want to operate on me and instead put me on the international urgent-cases list. That two days later, a new organ was flown in from England and transplanted. Or that the physicians didn’t bring me round from the anaesthesia at first, because they were worried I’d suffer cardiac arrest.

Seven days later, I was stable. When I woke up with my new lung, I didn’t even want to think about what my own happiness must have meant for the donor’s family. I just concentrated on getting well. It took almost two years until I had completely recovered. Today, I go on bike rides and play football. That really is a gift.”

Source: Angela Lembo/Schweizer Familie magazine, September 2013