Nick and Family

Breathing New Life

How Lung Transplant Turned a Dream of Fatherhood into Reality

For Nick Kanaan a double lung transplant was not only lifesaving but also life-changing. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) at birth, Nick was fortunate his CF remained relatively stable in his childhood and adolescence. His streak of good fortune ended in his mid-twenties when serious lung infections became the norm, accompanied by frequent sessions of IV therapy and long hospital stays. Then in 2019, it all came to a head. With lungs severely damaged and beyond repair, Nick suffered a near fatal lung bleed.

He desperately needed new lungs. But this would take time and immediate medical intervention was needed to save Nick’s life. He was placed on ECMO, a form of life support that mimics the action of the heart and lungs. Now Nick and his family had to wait. All this occurred while Nick and his wife were becoming first time parents.

Becoming a father was something Nick always wanted. But even early on he contemplated the implications of fatherhood with a chronic illness, “I knew I wanted to be a father from a young age. As I faced the realities of cystic fibrosis and its associated mortality I often questioned whether this would become a reality.” Ironically, Nick’s daughter arrived while his health was rapidly declining.

After waiting just weeks, Nick received a lung transplant in 2019. The surgery was successful, but he had complications and was hospitalized for nine months. His daughter took her first steps while Nick was on life support, which was painful but also motivating. He faced a long and arduous recovery, but he knew he never wanted to miss another milestone in his daughter’s life.

Now four years post-transplant, Nick is fully embracing fatherhood and all that comes with being a dad to two young children. He says, “I get to witness major milestones and many little things, from playing their first sports and the first day of school, to bath time and teaching my children how to count, spell and read.”

He wants to be there for his son and daughter long into the future. This adds additional considerations for Nick when it comes to his health. “As a recipient, I rely on daily immunosuppressants, these come with many side effects, including a weakened overall immune system, risk of organ damage, diabetes, elevated skin and colon cancer risks,” he reflects. “These risks frequently run through my mind.”

He hopes, one day, these potent drugs will be less harmful and target the transplanted organ with much less impact on the entire body.

For Nick, life is about moments and making memories with his children, including taking his daughter to her first movie.

After a tumultuous few years, Nick considers himself very fortunate. “I reflect daily on how grateful I am for my life today and always make it a point to take a step back and observe the many amazing things in my life – whether being able to do a simple task like walk or spend time with my family.”

Nick and Family