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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A Illinois man is speaking out after his lifesaving surgery in Louisville. Doctors say he had just a few months to live, but has now become Kentucky's oldest lung transplant recipient.
Bill Ray says, "I've never been like this before, but since this here happened, I can't hardly talk about it except I'm happy. That was my Christmas present to me."
Ray becomes emotional when it comes to his new lungs. Now 74 years old, Ray became Kentucky's oldest lung transplant recipient after his surgery in November.
As Dr. Allan Ramirez, the Jewish Hospital Medical Director of Transplantation explains, "Realistically, he probably had a couple of months if not a few weeks in that condition."
Four months later, he's in great health and back to his everyday activities. He received the transplant because he had scarring of his lung tissue and pulmonary fibrosis. Even walking was difficult. "I never felt anything in my lungs or anything," he says. "I just couldn't breathe, my oxygen would go down and then I could feel it. I was huffing and puffing then. But now I don't do that."
Jewish Hospital does not have an age cutoff for these types of transplants and evaluates patients' overall health in choosing candidates. Ray says he's thankful for that and the doctors there.
Dr. Ramirez says, "On average a lung transplant last five years. Some we lose within the first five years, the other half do much better than five years."
Ray still has numerous doctors' appointments and returns to Louisville a couple times a month. He lives about four hours away.