My granddaughters remind me why I pursued a lung transplant

A week with the girls was made possible by my donor's gift of life

Samuel Kirton avatar

by Samuel Kirton |

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“They’re here!”

Much like the scenes in movies where grandparents see their grandchildren arriving, I shouted those words on Father’s Day to let my wife, Susan, know it was game time.

When I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in January 2017, there were things I hadn’t done or experienced yet that I still hoped to accomplish. Becoming a grandfather was high on the list.

Last week, I shared with you how Susan and I childproofed our home to make it safe for our granddaughters and for me as a post-transplant patient. As it turned out, we did a pretty good job in anticipation of Abigail, 6, and Charlotte, 2, arriving with their dad, Christopher.

The girls’ visit reminded me of why I wanted to pursue a transplant from almost the beginning of my IPF journey. There’s absolutely nothing better for the soul than the laughter of a child. The girls’ giggles brought me great joy all week. With Abigail and Charlotte, I was able to have experiences that wouldn’t have been possible before my bilateral lung transplant in July 2021.

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Overflowing joy

I walked around Washington, D.C., with the girls and Christopher, hitting the highlights of two Smithsonian museums. Abigail wanted to see “dinosaur bones,” so the National Museum of Natural History was our first stop. Christopher wanted to introduce the girls to the National Museum of American History, which was one of his favorites when he grew up in the area.

Seeing the smiles on the girls’ faces when they saw Jim Henson’s Muppet characters Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, Oscar the Grouch from “Sesame Street,” and C-3PO and R2-D2 from “Star Wars” was a life event I might never have experienced were it not for the gift of life from my donor.

Friends offered to take the girls out for a boat ride. Abigail was initially hesitant to board the boat, as it was a new experience for her. Charlotte, on the other hand, like many 2-year-olds, had no fear. After she became comfortable, we made a game of spotting eagles and hawks. Both girls began waving to other boaters on the lake.

When they went home at the end of the week, I sat on the steps just inside our front door looking at a mural of overlapping handprints on the storm door. I could almost hear the girls giggling as they came in and out all week.

The decision to pursue transplant is personal. It’s not necessarily the right choice for everyone. For me, it was the right decision, as it provided me with an opportunity to see my granddaughters grow. It allowed me to sit on the couch with Charlotte in the middle of the afternoon to watch a Disney movie.

Much like an infomercial on late-night television, I must tell you there is more. Abigail proudly shared that she and Charlotte are going to have new baby sister. That will make three. I couldn’t be happier for Christopher and Ashley as they prepare to welcome another grandchild for me.

These are the moments when I realize there is much more to come in my life, and I’m determined to make every breath count.

Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.


Nancy clodge avatar

Nancy clodge

I would have a transplant fore sure, but I am at an age where they would not give me one. Have witnessed people after having transplant and certainly do well.

Samuel Kirton avatar

Samuel Kirton

Hi Nancy,
Thanks for reading my column and your comments. Even if you are not able to receive a transplant I encourage you to make every breath count.


Deborah Herbert avatar

Deborah Herbert

I am always inspired by reading your post. I received a bi-lateral lung transplant on June 4, 2024. I’m home and thriving.

Thanks so much for sharing your journey.


Samuel Kirton avatar

Samuel Kirton

Hi Deborah,

Thanks for reading my column and your feedback. Congratulations on receiving a transplant a little over three weeks ago. Please come back and let me know how you are doing.

Sam ...


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