Second breath of life

Chris Teece with his son Ben. 150835


OCEAN Grove double-lung transplant recipient Chris Teece is enjoying his second chance at life.
The 45-year-old has returned to work as a draftsman and running around with his kids at Auskick, tennis, netball and basketball.
“The difference between now and pre-transplant is just amazing,” he said. “I’ve never known anything like it.”
Chris will speak at Lorne this Friday in support of Tour de Transplant.
The 600km tour, along the Great Ocean Road, has raised $99,852 for the Heart and Lung Transplant Trust of Victoria (HLTTV) so far.
HLTTV provides accommodation for transplant recipients and their families, and helped Chris to stay near The Alfred Hospital in the months following his surgery.
This was especially helpful for Chris when suffered a “hiccup” in his recovery and needed medication for infections.
“Being around the corner from The Alfred was sensational,” he said.
Chris was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) at the age of five when his younger sister was born, who also had CF. Most of his childhood was spent in and out of hospital.
Despite periods of good health as a teenager, he would still have to go to hospital for weeks at a time for “tune-up”. After finishing high school, university seemed a long way off.
“I didn’t know if I had four or five years,” he said.
“When I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in the 1970s you would be lucky to reach early or mid-twenties.”
He lost his little sister to CF in 2000, when she was only 25, after she had a transplant in 1996.
“I guess that was in the back of my mind when I eventually went for my transplant – I wasn’t very confident,” he said.
By his mid-thirties, Chris’s lung function gradually decreased to about 38 per cent and was put on 24/7 oxygen at home.
He was in hospital in late 2012 and in May 2013 Chris began assessment for transplant, which involved numerous tests.
He was too unwell to do them all in one go and completed them in Christmas 2013.
He was on the transplant list for just six weeks, but during his last test his lung capacity was down to 18 per cent.
Chris remembers taking his first unassisted breath 14 hours after surgery in January 2014.
“It was just magic – an actual clear breath!” he said.
The tour, led by cycling legend Phil Anderson, starts in Warrnambool today and finishes in Melbourne on Sunday. Organisers hope to raise $150,000 for HLTTV.