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St. John's man doing well after second lung transplant

The James family poses for a family photo on Christmas Day in St. Philip's, two days after Chris arrived home from Toronto with a double-lung transplant.  From left are Brandan, mother Kim, Cassie, Candace, father Keith, and Chris.
The James family poses for a family photo on Christmas Day in St. Philip's, two days after Chris arrived home from Toronto with a double-lung transplant. From left are Brandan, mother Kim, Cassie, Candace, father Keith, and Chris. - Contributed

Chris James’ sister says he is recovering well in Toronto hospital

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

When Chris James asked the nurse for his phone and iPad, his sister knew things were going well.

“He’s getting back to himself, obviously,” Cassie James told The Telegram Monday in a phone call from Toronto General, where she was sitting in a family waiting room in the ICU.

Cassie James sits with Chris in Toronto not along after her brother received his first lung transplant in September 2019. Chris received a second pair of lungs Saturday after he went into rejection. - Contributed
Cassie James sits with Chris in Toronto not along after her brother received his first lung transplant in September 2019. Chris received a second pair of lungs Saturday after he went into rejection. - Contributed

Chris, who suffers from cystic fibrosis (CF), underwent a second lung transplant Saturday night. The first one, conducted in September 2019, didn’t take. He had returned home on Tibb’s Eve, but was back in hospital before the family could ring in the new year.

The Toronto hospital, like those in this province, has imposed visitor restrictions. But Cassie and her parents have been able to visit him one at a time.

“(The nurse) said he’s becoming bored already after just being taken off the ventilator, so he’s doing well,” Cassie said with a chuckle,

Chris turns 30 at the end of the month.

“I’m flying home tomorrow because I’m getting nervous with making sure that I can get home to my two kids and my job,” Cassie said.

Despite the ongoing shutdowns to curtail the spread of COVID-19, Cassie is an in-home personal care attendant and is categorized as an essential worker.

Her family, meanwhile, is staying optimistic.

“It’s a huge relief,” she said. “It’s still a little bit nerve-wracking. We know the possibilities of rejection in the future.”

Chris’s hemoglobin was low on Sunday, but improved on Monday, she said.

Although the lungs aren’t considered a perfect match, the medical team said they don’t have any concerns at the moment, she added.

"The surgeon assured us yesterday that he wouldn’t give him lungs if he didn’t think that his body would take to them,” said Cassie.

At least nine CF patients from Newfoundland and Labrador have undergone lung transplants in Toronto over the past three years.

The genetic disease, which can cause problems with other organs and the digestive system as well as the lungs, affects about one in 3,600 children born in Canada.



Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initative reporter covering health care for The Telegram.


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