Its safe to say that Robert Fealy has been through a lot in 2017.
Fealy, who suffers from Alpha 1 Antitrypsin deficiency, a hereditary condition that leads to decreased activity in the blood and lungs, endured a double lung transplant, followed by a liver transplant in June.
Fealy, a Weston native who now resides in Columbus, Ohio, relayed his story while visiting with family and friends at Holiday Inn Express on Saturday, Nov. 18.
Fealy spoke about how difficult the process of finding a donor in his situation was, adding that the fact that both lungs and the liver had to come from a single donor complicated the process.
“You lose hope, its to the point where you think, ‘its not going to happen for me,’” Fealy said, detailing the last doctor visit before being informed they had found a donor. That call came the next day.
The double lung and liver transplants were done over a two day period in June at the Cleveland Clinic.
Fealy noted that the lungs were done on June 14, the liver on June 15, and that June 16 marked his 38th wedding anniversary with his wife Jeanne.
Fealy was recently awarded the Gift Of Life Award, and when asked about how it felt to receive the honor he said, “I appreciate the recognition, but I just did what everyone would do. I fought to stay alive.”
Fealy said that the only thing he knew of the donor was that he was a 24-year-old male, noting that after a six-month waiting period, he would write a letter asking permission to contact the man’s family to thank them.
“The gift of life, you can’t put a price on it. The reason Robert is here today is because we received organs from a donor,” said Jeanne Fealy, while urging people to become organ donors.
She also acknowledged the members of “Team Fealy” for their prayers and support. She credited that support, along with their faith, as a significant contribution to them during the entire process.
“I’m happy to be here today, I’m happy to be here with the people I love. Its a great feeling, and I think its just going to get better and better,” Fealy said.
According to data found on the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network’s website, there are currently 116,121 people on the list awaiting transplants nationwide.
Those wishing to become a donor can do so online at
donatelife.wv.gov, organize.org, or in person while applying or reapplying for a West Virginia drivers license.
There are no age limitations on becoming a donor in West Virginia, however, parents can override a minor’s decision to do so if they wish.