Cincinnati, OH | June 22, 2020
Local resident Stephen Mitchell feels blessed to be an active grandfather after successfully receiving a double lung transplant in August of 2012. That’s why he and his family plan to participate in the American Lung Association in Ohio’s virtual LUNG FORCE Run/Walk in June to raise awareness and funds for lung health and the Lung Association’s COVID-19 Action Initiative; an effort to end COVID-19 and defend against future respiratory virus pandemics.
In 2012, Mitchell was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease that scars the lungs, making it more difficult for him to breathe overtime. Requiring 40 liters of oxygen while in the hospital, he was ranked number two in the nation on the transplant list.
“I knew I was really sick, I thought I was going to die,” Mitchell said.
Nurses asked Mitchell to get out of his bed and walk down the hall, a request his wife thought would kill him. He found the strength to get up and walk, leading him to the news he desperately wanted to hear. Doctors told him they found him lungs, and he’d be receiving a transplant that night.
“It felt as if God lifted a weight off my shoulders, I felt as if I was going to make it,” Mitchell said. “They found me lungs in 18 hours, it was a miracle.”
Post-surgery, tubes were taken off and Mitchell was breathing on his own again.
“It was the greatest feeling ever; I had my own set of lungs again,” Mitchell added. “Everyone wanted to listen to my lungs and referred to them as sounding pristine, which made me feel so much better.”
Mitchell began running when he was 30 years old and his doctors believe that is the reason his body was able to withstand everything he went through. He encourages anyone who notices even a slight change in their breathing to be proactive and get it checked out.
“Other recipients sometimes have complications so I truly know how lucky I am. Something could happen to me tomorrow,” Mitchell said. “I want to continue to do things and be active.”
Mitchell has participated in Lung Association events the last five years. This June, his family will join him to complete the virtual LUNG FORCE Run/Walk to honor his donor and his father who passed away due to lung disease.
“I want to raise awareness for donors. Donate life, there’s no reason not to,” Mitchell said. “Without donors I’m not here. I’m running for my donor whoever she may be.”
Mitchell hopes to see more lung health funding in the future.
“There’s a lot out there for cancer and heart disease, but we need more fundraisers for lung health,” Mitchell said. “We have to take lung health more serious.”
The Lung Association’s virtual LUNG FORCE Run/Walk will be held throughout the month of June. Participants are encouraged to run or walk their targeted distance outside while respectfully distancing from others or inside their own homes. Registration is $25. More information and registration is available at LUNGFORCE.org/Cincinnati.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. 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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