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This holiday season, Paul Estridge has an extra reason to celebrate. November marked the one-year anniversary of his lung transplant, just 18 months after his diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. And he’s celebrating by making a gift to IU Health Foundation.
A successful home builder and restaurant owner, Estridge is paying it forward to other transplant patients with a gift that will fund part of a three-year fellowship specializing in advanced lung disease and transplant. This fellowship will ensure IU Health continues at the highest level of quality transplant care, both before and after transplant procedures.
Now, a year after his surgery, Estridge remembers the uncertainty and fear that came on the heels of his diagnosis. “I got sick very quickly,” he recalls. “Before the end of 2019, I was on oxygen. By spring of 2020, my health started to rapidly decline.”
Weeks later, doctors broke the news: Estridge needed a lung transplant.
Immediately, his team at IU Health went into action. After three weeks, they secured a match. While the transplant was a success, he experienced numerous complications in the following days and weeks.
“I was placed in the ICU, and it was the most mentally challenging experience,” he remembers. “Because at the time, it was closed to visitors due to the pandemic, which meant I couldn’t see my wife or children. And there were several times I worried I would not make it.”
But Estridge credits his team of providers for getting him through even the darkest days. “Everyone was just phenomenal. From the doctors to the nurses. They were my family,” he says. “After I was discharged on Jan. 19, 2021, I was moved to the Center of Life for Thoracic Transplant (COLTT). Personally, I attribute COLTT for my successful rehabilitation. Now, I live normal days.”
Those normal days aren’t something Estridge takes for granted. He hopes his gift will provide the same opportunity for other transplant patients to get back to their lives. “I know what it feels like emotionally and physically to be on the edge,” he says. “The only way I could have lived is with a transplant. It's miraculous to receive it.”
As he celebrates his transplant one-year anniversary, Estridge hopes his recovery is a testament to the care he received at IU Health, and an inspiration for others hoping to give back. “I hope I can be a living example of how a gift clearly can transform a life.”
If you would like to give this holiday season to support the COLTT program or transplant care at IU Health, visit the IU Health Foundation online donation page. Once directed to the site, select "Other" under "Please Direct My Gift To," and then type "transplant care” or “COLTT."