Dennis McGorry, Sr. was a healthy, active family physician still working in his 70s and keeping up his decades old habit of 5 a.m visits to the gym every morning. He played golf frequently, traveled and was always attending one of his eight grandkids' sporting events. During one of his annual ski trips out West in March 2012, he was short of breath and thought that he was suffering from altitude sickness. Upon returning back to Pennsylvania and many tests and appointments later, he was diagnosed with Ideopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis that year.
For four years the disease slowly progressed and he had to stop doing many of the things he loved - practicing medicine, golfing, exercising, being active with his grandkids - because he was too exhausted from the constant coughing and short of breath. In May of 2016, he made the decision to go on the lung transplant waiting list at the University of Pennsylvania after extensive testing and thoughtful consideration. In June of 2017, Dennis had a planned family vacation to Avalon, NJ which he almost did not go on because he was feeling so weak. He decided to go for Father's Day and be with his family and stayed a few more days. During that week, in the early morning hours of June 21, he received the call from Penn that there were lungs that were a possible match for him. So he, his wife Mary Ellen and their three children drove from Avalon to Penn in the middle of the night.
After 22 hours of waiting, the decision was made that the lungs were a perfect fit for him and he was able to receive both of them. The lungs were flown to Penn from a donor in Chicago and he officially received two new lungs on June 22. The weeks following the surgery were difficult ones filled with many ups and downs and recovery continues to be a journey, but one that gets brighter every day.
Everyone that knows him is so thankful for the miracle of those two new lungs and has come to realize the importance of being an organ donor. He recently played his first nine holes of golf post-transplant!
First Published: October 17, 2016
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