Lung transplant recipient has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

Posted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- As we enter the holiday season, a Gilbert man has plenty to be thankful for. In fact, he's happy just to be here.

Jim Seaton suffers from advanced emphysema and couldn't easily travel. A little more than a year ago, he and his wife really weren't sure how much longer he would live.

"My breathing capacity, I was having to sit down to take a shower, sit down to shave," Seaton said.

"His lung capacity went down to 18 and it was just so scary to see how quick your life can be taken from you," said Seaton's wife, Doris.

He was placed on the lung transplant list and then one evening hope came calling. Within days, he received a call from the Norton Thoracic Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. There was a match and he immediately went in for surgery.

Dr. Ross Bremner said it takes four to eight hours for the surgery. He performed the surgery but credits much of Seaton's recovery to a positive attitude and great family support.

"We were not frightened at all," Doris Seaton said. "We just felt like if it was God's will, he'd come through it, that we had nothing to worry about."

Spending more time with family was the reason Seaton wanted the transplant.

He saw two more grandchildren come into the world and he made an important trip to see his 97-year-old mother.

"Six months then I was able to fly back to South Carolina where she's at living with my sister and see her, which we didn't think that would ever happen," Seaton said.

His life is now relatively normal.

The lung transplant doesn't cure his emphysema, but it does provide time for what is important.

"Heaven forbid if I die tomorrow, this has been a great year," Seaton said. "I've had so much to be thankful for and wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving."

Seaton said he has to take a large cocktail of drugs to keep his body from rejecting his new lungs, but he has been able to travel to Alaska, South Carolina and Colorado over the past year -- really taking advantage of his higher quality of life.