My name is John Thompson Harwood, and I will be 67 years old in June 2014, thanks mostly to having had a double lung transplant on June 14th. 2009 at the Freeman Hospital.
I have always worked in the pipeline business, having travelled extensively and being involved in many large International Projects. My family and I lived happily in Saudi Arabia for 15 years up to 1989. We then returned to England where I worked in Immingham before moving to the North East in 1996. During a lot of this period I suffered from recurrent breathing issues, which was eventually diagnosed as COPD which of course meant using several different inhalers culminating in requiring oxygen 24hrs. per day.
I still worked throughout having had an oxygen supply installed in my office this was possible as my position as General Manager of BSR Pipeline Services in Hartlepool is mainly office based, plus my Company was 100% supportive during this most difficult period. However, I also spent periods in hospital with pneumonia etc. After a severe episode it was suggested that I may be a suitable recipient of a double lung transplant. My wife and I had no hesitation in pursuing this opportunity in spite of the obvious risks involved. I started to undergo various tests to confirm my suitability for transplant surgery. Thankfully the tests were positive and I was placed on the waiting list in May 2009. Amazingly we received a call a few weeks later at 1030pm on a Saturday evening asking that we get to the Freeman as soon as possible as a suitable donor may have been found.
We were so fortunate that all was well, and I had the transplant operation on June 14th 2009. It proved to be a success and after intensive care etc, I left the Freeman on June 25th to return home with bags full of pills and potions! It was Summertime and beautiful weather so I was soon out walking around Norton, building up my strength and breathing in the fresh air feeling wonderful.
Despite a couple of rejection set-backs in the early days I was back at work within three months on a part-time basis which quickly became full-time as normal. At present I have no plans to retire and go to the gym at least five times a week to keep as fit as possible.
My wife and I have been to Australia twice since the operation to visit our son and his family and then to Singapore when they moved as he changed his job.
None of this would have been possible without the generosity of the family of my unknown donor back in 2009, no words can ever truly convey our immense gratitude.
The wonderful work carried out at the Freeman is beyond compare and deserves all the support we can give.
John Harwood, General Manager
BSR Pipeline Services Ltd