My name is David Crosby from Co. Cavan.I am a married father of 3 young children. I am also the oldest of 5 children and I grew up knowing to make the most of life as I lost 3 siblings to a rare lung disease in childhood. I have a passion for sport and my fitness and health was never an issue.
In August 2015 weeks after my 40th birthday I got a persistent cough that did not respond to antibiotics. I was referred for x-rays and scans that warranted further investigation and I had a lung biopsy in the Mater hospital Dublin. On September 29th 2015 I was given the devastating results I was diagnosed with IPF (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis) which is scaring and hardening of the lungs. It is a progressive non curable disease. At best the Doctors hoped to slow it down with meds to buy me time. To say we were devastated would be putting it mildly. It was a day that my family and I will never forget .Four weeks later I was put on oxygen 24 hrs a day. In mid December I was admitted back to hospital felling unwell. Unfortunately my disease was getting worse and it was decided that I would need a double Lung Transplant as soon as possible. After a series of 40 tests I was deemed a good candidate if I could lower my BMI. I started my diet immediately determined not to let the weight stop me from getting on the Transplant List for a chance of survival. I would go out walking with an oxygen pack on my back every day in an attempt to lose the weight and to get on that list. Over the next 2 months I achieved that hurdle, in half the time given to me by my dietician and lost 2.5 stone.
I was on the list three days when I got a call in February 2016 for a possible match for a transplant. As I was getting into that ambulance, I wanted nothing more than to see my family and home again. Unfortunately the transplant did not go ahead as the donor lungs were not viable and I was sent home again to wait. We were in turmoil thinking was our chance was gone. We put on a brave front for our children and carried on with our new way of life, waiting and hoping.
Some days later I got another call for a possible match and from our previous experience we were cautious, not to get our hopes up. After 7 hours waiting and dreaming of what could be it was confirmed that the lungs were a good match and the transplant was to take place. It went smoothly; or so I was told but I’m sure my wife and family did not have a smooth of a time as I did. The initial few days I could not sleep as I was afraid because I thought I may not wake up again after all our family history. Thankfully I recovered well and left hospital after thirteen days.
That remarkable day is what brings me to this. There is one person I will never get to thank in this world. My life was saved by someone whom I will never meet.
My Donor. My unknown hero and their family made a brave decision to donate organs.
But it is more than that, it’s a gift of life, a second chance and without them I would not be here writing this to you today. The donor and their family were going through what had to be a hard and difficult time and yet they found the strength to help others. I think about them every day, in things I do and think and say. They inspired me to push on, concentrate on important things, which for me are my family and to try and give back somehow to all the people who helped me through this challenging time.
I know what it is like for those patients and their families who are waiting for the call that may never come. As I said before I lost 3 siblings. Regina passed away at 7 months, Paul passed away at 2 years and a very special person Ciaran passed away at 11. Ciaran was on the transplant list and passed away while waiting for a heart and lung transplant. He fought hard in this world and seldom complained about it and throughout his illness his attitude and bravery was unbelievable. He was the type of child that was wise beyond his years and he loved the craic. He wrote a book on his life and experiences which were many for only 11 years called “Too Many Angles”. Organ donation awareness is so important, if only everybody knew how much they can help someone after they are gone. I have met families, whose loved ones have passed away and they made the decision to donate organs while they say they still feel their loved ones loss and always will, they feel a sense of pride for what their loved one has done in helping improve someone’s quality of life or in my case, saved a life. They always hope the donor recipients are doing well.
I have set myself a challenge in honour and memory of my donor and to help me in my recovery. This was to complete the New York Marathon which I did in Nov 5th 2017. I had 13 family and friends that included my wife, my mother, and Dr David Healy a thoracic surgeon from the St Vincents Hospital all join me on this amazing experience. These endeavour's are completely self funded so every penny donated is going directly to the charity. All money that is raised will benefit Lung Fibrosis research in St Vincent's Hospital and related charities.
After completing the New York Marathon, it wasn't long before I started to think again about my Donor and the importance of organ donation. This made me set a new challenge of completing all 6 of the world marathon majors and picking up the Abbotts Super Six Series marathon medal. I have three marathon medals so far, New York with 14 in my team in 2017, Berlin in September 2018 with a team of 12 and London in April 2019 with a team of 30, so far everyone who has joined me has finished the marathon and received their own medal which means so much to me, to prove anything is possible, next will be Tokyo March 2020, Chicago October 2020 and finishing in Boston April 2021 , am also doing the Marathons to try and show people the effects of what positivity can bring you and that if you put your mind to anything it can be achieved with lots of positivity and hard work. And it is my hope also to raise awareness of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Most importantly if you could have a chat with your loved ones and let them know your thoughts and wishes on organ donation.
Once again thank you for taking the time to read my story