Joseph McCanne was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at just three years old. That diagnosis began a long journey that would ultimately include two double-lung transplants at Emory Transplant Center – with each transplant giving him a new opportunity to enjoy life at its fullest.
Declining Health, Steps Toward Transplant
At first, Joseph was hesitant to consider a double-lung transplant, despite his declining health. His cystic fibrosis was creating several serious health issues, including constant bouts of pneumonia that were sending him regularly to the hospital and lung function that eventually dropped to 13 percent.
It wasn’t until 2009 when he began to envision a brighter, healthier future – and that was all thanks to one person in particular: Kayse, the woman who would become his wife.
“I wanted to stick around a little longer,” he admits.
After years of indecision, he called the Emory Transplant Center and told them he was ready. Joseph was placed high on the transplant list and waited only two weeks. On October 7, 2009, he arrived at Emory for a bilateral transplant.
After a 12-hour surgery, a three-week hospital stay, and one-month recovery at home, he was playing racquetball.
“It was life-changing,” he says. “Climbing Stone Mountain, playing racquetball and tennis, going for a job in the neighborhood – most people take those things for granted, but they were amazing for me. It was a beautiful, wonderful gift.”
A Third Chance at Life
Joseph enjoyed seven years of good health – until June 2016 when he began to feel short of breath during regular activities. He returned to Emory, where he was diagnosed with a fungal infection. The infection was causing the transplanted lungs to suddenly go into rejection.
On March 13, 2017, he underwent a second double-lung transplant, once again performed at Emory Transplant Center.
“Emory has always been there, and they’ve been great,” says Joseph. “The doctors and nurses feel like family. They’ve been very supportive and instrumental to my health since I was 11.”
Now, Joseph is back to the life he enjoys: One that includes hiking, running, working and playing with his children.
“I’m doing things I’ve never thought possible – because of Emory, because of the transplant, and because of the care they provide,” he finishes.
The Power of Organ Donation
Spring is a great time to recognize those who have saved lives through organ donation, with observances and local events, such as National Donate Life Month in April, which encourages Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors, and the 2019 Atlanta Kidney Walk in May.
“I know firsthand how lifesaving organ donation can be,” says Joseph. “Having new life after transplantation allows you to do things you could never do. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s a brand new start.”
You can also register to become an organ donor by visiting Donate Life Georgia.
About Emory Transplant Center
Emory Transplant Center has performed nearly 500 lung transplant surgeries through the Emory Lung Transplant Program. Emory is a leader in clinical excellence and in pioneering new transplant therapies. We offer cutting-edge technology and superior outcomes in kidney transplant, liver transplant, lung transplant and pancreas transplant.
Our patients come from all over the nation for our high level of expertise and proven patient outcomes. We are proud to be ranked among the top 12 transplant programs in the nation and have performed more than 9,400 transplants to date.
To learn more about the Emory Transplant Center, visit emoryhealthcare.org/transplant or call 855-366-7989.