Local man beats cancer, heart and lung disease - KMSP-TV

Local man beats cancer, heart and lung disease

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Rob Ross was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 18. Rob Ross was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 18.

As a high school senior, a Michigan man was diagnosed with cancer. He received treatment and survived, but had no idea the cancer treatment would nearly kill him 20 years later.

This story starts in 1984 when Rob Ross of Brighton was 18 and diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, cancer of the white blood cells. He received radiation and chemotherapy and began his married life cancer free.

As Rob was living a happy life for 25 years, he didn't realize that the chemo and radiation had destroyed his lungs and heart valve.

He says getting up the stairs would take 45 minutes, and he was wearing oxygen at all hours of the day to help him breathe.

Rob needed a lung transplant and a heart valve repair, but doctors can't fix one without the other being healthy.
"Rob had extensive scarring of his chest. He also had an aortic valve that needed a repair, and this can be done at very few places, that both procedures can be done at the same time," Dr. Marie Budev of the Cleveland Clinic. That's where Rob finally found hope.

There, they tell him they can repair his heart valve and transplant new lungs at the same time, but it's complicated.  
"When you get into a more complex case such as Rob's, where's there has been radiation to the chest, complications of doing a double lung transplant are there, including damage to some of the nerves that stimulate the diaphragm or the stomach. And we could have problems after transplant," says Budev.

Rob underwent the surgery, and it was successful.  

One year later, Rob realizes he beat cancer, heart disease and lung disease with help from family, doctors, and medications. But Rob believes the one person who really saved him was the stranger he'll never know.
"I'm very, very thankful that their donor made that generous gift. It's enabled me to live. I don't think I would have had too much longer without the transplant," Rob says.

Rob and his wife, Janell, are so grateful to the person who donated lungs. They are encouraging everyone they know to become organ donors through the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan.

LINK: Click here for more information on the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan

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