Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation helping those on waiting lists


Delha Tuwhangai.
Delha Tuwhangai.

A GROUP of well-muscled men file through the gym doors, folders in hand and exchanging banter.

They look fit, but all are walking into a hospital gym toting oxygen concentrators.

Many of the men are keeping themselves active as they wait for a phone call to let them know a life-saving lung transplant is finally possible.

Delha Tuwhangai, of Leda, recently received such a call and prepared for surgery only to find out the organs were unsuitable.

He continues to wait, reliant on oxygen around the clock.

He was given one of four new compact oxygen concentrators that were purchased with money fundraised by the Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation.

The newer machines are quieter and more discreet than a heavy oxygen tank.

“When I go shopping I take this. It doesn’t look like something out of a space movie or like I’m a deep sea diver. It just looks like a suitcase, so I look like I’m a tourist,” Mr Tuwhangai said.

The father-of-three welcomed the first grandchild to the family five weeks ago, and he said keeping up his fitness and watching his diet was important.

Mr Tuwhangai was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2012 after he went to the GP with swollen legs.

In addition to medical appointments, he attends Fiona Stanley Hospital’s lung transplant unit gym twice a week as part of his physiotherapy program.

According to the Australia and New Zealand Cardiothoracic Organ Transplant Registry, 90 people were on the wait list for lung transplants at the end of 2015 into the start of last year. The latest report will be released in April.

To register as a bone, tissue or organ donor, visit www.donorregister.gov.au.