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

The Northern Sea Wolf is set to arrive in Bella Coola June 19 and BCVT remains cautiously optimistic for a more “normal” 2021 season (Michael Wigle photo)
Summer ferry service to Bella Coola to start June 19

“We are optimistic for a good tourist season.”

A Category 3 fire ban will go into effect across the entire Cariboo Fire Centre beginning noon on Monday, June 21. (Pixaby photo)
Category 3 fire ban extends across entire Cariboo Fire Centre June 21

Campfires are still permitted, but no larger than half a metre high by half a metre wide

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation planning ground analysis of land near former residential school

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

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

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read