Back on the Tennis Court: Huseyin Unver Shares His Lung Transplant Story

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Mr. Unver enjoying his life post-transplant

After celebrating the one-year anniversary of his double lung transplant, Mr. Unver took some time to share his transplant journey with us. Here is his story.

For over four years, I lived with oxygen: 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, connected constantly to 5-30 feet of tubing. This was a very difficult time. I was always very tired, with limited physical and social activity.

Before I received my diagnosis of bronchiectasis, I walked three miles to the office every day, rode a bike for 30 minutes daily, exercised religiously for minimum of 30 minutes and played singles and doubles tennis (indoors and outdoors) every weekend.

After a Dry Run, Good News

As I became more sick, I tried to stay active, but my daily exercise was limited to walking the aisles of the local supermarket with my portable oxygen machine and the shopping cart. After a while, I memorized every single product on each aisle, including their prices. My wife was always amazed by my thorough knowledge of products’ locations and prices.

During this time, I occasionally enjoyed going out to dinner, movies and plays with my family. However, we always sat far away from other patrons, so that my coughing and the noise from the oxygen machine would not interfere with their enjoyment.

I was listed for double lung transplant with two hospitals, including Penn Medicine. After waiting for three months, I had one dry run — a potential offer for lungs that doesn’t result in a transplant. After the dry run, I remember Dr. Bermudez saying that he would find me a suitable pair of lungs soon.

As I was wheeled out of the operating room, all of the attending staff told me: “We’ll see you again soon.” It was the best encouragement I ever received.

Six months after being listed at Penn, lungs finally became available.

Enjoying My New Self

On March 19, 2018, I opened my eyes with new pair of lungs. In due course, I could breathe without oxygen and tubes hanging out of my nose. After 14 weeks of close monitoring and physical therapy, I was sent home. I am now enjoying my new self by going to movies, theaters and restaurants without the fear of disturbing others with my coughs and the noise from the oxygen machine.

Above all, I am once again enjoying playing tennis with my wife, my favorite doubles partner. My daily regimen also includes long walks and light cardio exercises.

An Extraordinary Team

I will be eternally grateful to the donor and his family and to Dr. Bermudez and his team for the successful double lung transplant operation. I am equally grateful to Dr. Maria Crespo and her caring associates who attended to me following the operation and during my successful recovery.

My special thanks and appreciation goes out to nurses and nurse practitioners Eric Hobson, Alexis Gelo, Jaclyn Golato and Melissa Johnson. I am equally grateful to rehab therapists Derek, Laura and Pat for their caring and patient work with me during PT sessions. Thanks also to Kirsten and her staff at the extraordinary Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House. Of course, I would not be where I am now without the love and care of my wife Dianna and my daughter Kate.

Penn Medicine displays a level of professional empathy I have not experienced elsewhere. The level of care is outstanding.

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