by Suzanne Gammon
April is Organ Donor month and one man is on a mission to make everyone aware of it. André Auger says he was lucky enough to receive a life-saving organ two years ago, and his way of giving back is to promote organ donation so that others may be just as lucky in future.
Auger is well known in West Nipissing as a retired educator and school principal who has been involved with the Club Richelieu for many years. Always active and healthy, the father of four and grandfather of 9 began to feel short of breath in the summer of 2012. “It would suddenly take more effort to do things, like climbing stairs or playing golf,” he recounts.
Medical tests revealed he had pulmonary fibrosis, with both lungs affected, though the cause was unknown and there was no treatment. When he asked doctors his prognosis, they predicted he had 2 to 5 years left to live. At the time, he was in his late sixties and otherwise very fit and healthy, but his condition was deteriorating fast. “The more the disease was progressing, the more I was out of breath.” He eventually had to resort to an oxygen machine, which he used for a year-and-a-half.
In November of 2016, a new respiratory specialist arrived in North Bay and Auger became one of his first patients. Dr. Irfin Khan had done a placement at the Toronto General Hospital, where the organ transplant team is recognized among the best in the world, and he suggested Auger consider a lung transplant. “He saw this as the only solution,” recalls Auger, adding that his otherwise healthy condition made him a candidate despite his advanced age. “I had never been sick, I was in good shape. You have to be, because a transplant is a big shock to the system and it takes a lot to recover from it,” he explains.
André Auger knows he would not be here today had he not been lucky enough to receive a lung in June 2017. Since his recovery, he has been promoting organ donation so that more lives may be saved.
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