Local Double Lung Transplant Survivor to Climb Cincinnati Tower
(November 5, 2019) - CINCINNATI, Ohio
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Just five years ago, local resident Tim Phipps’ chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was so severe that he struggled to walk short distances without stopping to catch his breath. After a life-saving double lung transplant, Phipps will tackle the 45 floors, 804 steps of Carew Tower at the Fight For Air Climb this February.
For years, Phipps experienced coughing and shortness of breath, but ignored the symptoms and continued with his work and daily life. He would take over-the-counter medications and tried to hide it from his family, friends and colleagues. Then, at age 41, he was cutting the grass when he coughed so hard that he broke a rib.
“It was one of the most painful things that I had ever done. At the doctor’s office, the x-ray showed lung damage. At that point, I started to seek professional treatment for lung disease,” he said. “My father died at 49 from COPD, so I was impacted by the disease before I even had it. I never wanted it to slow me down. I wasn’t ready to sit at home.”
By 2014, the Phipps’ health started to go downhill fast. He was unable to walk from his office to a meeting without stopping to catch his breath several times. He required supplemental oxygen at night and needed to take it with him nearly everywhere.
Since his breathing had deteriorated significantly, he discussed the possibility of a lung transplant with his pulmonologist. He began tests to see if he would qualify.
“I was going to do everything I could to pass those tests. I got in touch with a local lung disease support group and went to pulmonary rehab. I got up and moved whenever I could, which was difficult, but the rest of your body needs to keep moving,” said Phipps. “There was never a doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to do it [the lung transplant].”
He qualified for a double lung transplant and six weeks later received the call he had been waiting for. After living with COPD for more than 15 years, he got the lung transplant that changed his life.
“I felt great when I woke up. That night, I was able to breathe on my own. The next day, my lungs were at 100% oxygen. It was a feeling I hadn’t had in a long time,” he said. “Now I am doing things that I couldn’t do over the last 10 years. I couldn’t play any games with my kids before, and now I am playing golf with them.”
Not long after his recovery, Phipps received an email about the Fight For Air Climb at Carew Tower in Cincinnati. He signed up for the event and on February 10, 2019, he climbed 45 floors, 804 steps along with three other double lung transplant survivors.
“That whole day was a blast. Just being a part of the Fight For Air Climb was amazing. It was really hard, but my breath was never an issue,” he said.
On February 9, 2020, he will again participate in the Fight For Air Climb at Carew Tower to help raise awareness for lung disease and funds for life-saving research.
“More research needs to happen. Ten years ago, a lung transplant wouldn’t have been an option for me,” said Phipps. “It is important to know when your body is saying something and you can’t ignore it. And I did ignore it for years, but now I am in tune with my body. If you are getting short of breath and you’re only 40, go to the doctor.”
To learn more about the Fight For Air Climb at Carew Tower, happening on February 9, 2020, visit FightForAirClimb.org/Cincinnati.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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