Severe cough leads to a double lung transplant for Delaware man

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A nagging cough progressively turned into a life-threatening diagnosis for one Delaware man. He credits Temple Health with saving his life.

Allan Nelson, of Kenton, Kent County, knew he had a family history of pulmonary fibrosis. He just never thought he'd be facing his own mortality with the disease.

The 64-year-old started coughing in 2015 and over the next couple of years, it got worse and worse.

"It was just wrenching the amount of coughing I was doing," he said.

His diagnosis was pulmonary fibrosis, a disease he was all too familiar.

"My father and my great grandmother both died from pulmonary fibrosis, so I had it in the back of my head that I was probably in line for this," he said,

But he never thought he would hear this.

"He says you have anywhere from about one to three years to live and of course that was like devastating," Nelson said.

Nelson was referred to Temple Health for a double lung transplant.

"Pulmonary fibrosis is progressive scar tissue formation throughout the lungs," said Dr. James Brown a pulmonologist. "Over time that prevents the lungs from being able to get oxygen into the blood and get rid of carbon dioxide."

Nelson received his transplant on January 8, 2019.

"It's amazing, it's amazing, right out of surgery the next day when you're conscious the first thing I said after they got the breathing tube is, 'oh, my gosh, I am not coughing anymore," said Nelson.

"His prognosis is good, he's been doing fantastic," said Dr. Brown.

Experts caution that despite needing a transplant, there is still a process in getting one.

"There's a number of medical tests to make sure that you're able to survive the transplant and do well afterwards," said Dr. Brown.

That process can take weeks on its own, then once you are on the transplant list:

"Once you're listed your score on that list is based on how urgently you need a transplant so wait times could vary for different people," said Dr. Brown.

After four months of recovery, Nelson was back to work full-time with no restrictions.
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