John’s joy at new lease of life

Double lung transplant patient John Burkitt with his step daughter Nicola Steel.
Double lung transplant patient John Burkitt with his step daughter Nicola Steel.

A double lung transplant patient from Doncaster is feeling ‘unbelievable’ after his successful operation.

And John Burkitt, aged 66, of Bedale Road in Scawsby, is so pleased with his new lease of life that he has raised just short of £2,500 for the people that helped him.

Explaining how the operation came about, he said: “I got emphysema around 12 or 13 years ago and they told me it was caused by double pneumonia which I had as a child which had scarred the tissue.

“In January or February last year fibrosis reared its ugly head. I’d been going to DRI, I saw a doctor, and he said the only care they could give me for my breathing, which was failing dreadfully, was at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.”

John visited the hospital for assessment, after which he was told he fitted the criteria to go on the list.

He said: “I was over the moon when I heard that.

“Then I got a call at 4am on October 13 last year to say they’d got me a pair of lungs. I got to the hospital at 8am and at 11.40am my coordinator came in and said, ‘How you fixed John? It’s a goer’.

“I said, ‘Let’s get ready to rumble!’ I knew there was a 20 per cent chance of failure, but that’s not how I looked at it.”

John underwent eight-and-a-half hours of surgery, which included two hours to take his old lungs out.

His donor was a 31-year-old male who had died after a stroke. “That’s one thing I would most stress, donors are very important,” said John. “They are the reason the hospital is so successful.”

As a thank you, a charity night was held at The White Swan in Doncaster raising £1,400. A race night at Grimethorpe Working Men’s Club raised a further £1,000. The money has been donated to a charity which runs flats at the hospital for patients and families.

Since his operation, John has had two rejection scares but revisited the hospital last Wednesday for a bronchoscopy and said everything is ‘hunky dory’.

John added: “Yesterday was the best day I have had since my operation. I feel absolutely unbelievable.”

n To become an organ donor visit the website or phone 0300 1232323.