Raymond Fermin just landed a shot at a basketball court near his home in the Bronx. He is messing around with his best friend, Bernie Fabre, as they dribble past one another, drive to the basket for a layup, and scramble for rebounds.
After about 20 minutes, Raymond takes a break, not to catch his breath but to drink some water and revel in the fact that he’s back on the court.
“Before, when I was sick and playing basketball, I wouldn’t last too long,” recalls the 24-year-old. “Now I can actually play at my pace, and I don’t have to give my spot up during a game.”
There was a time when Raymond had to witness life from the sidelines. Born with an aggressive form of cystic fibrosis — a genetic disorder that affects the lungs, pancreas, and other organs — Raymond started experiencing trouble breathing as a teenager. By age 23, cystic fibrosis had ravaged Raymond’s body, causing multiorgan failure and leaving him with limited breathing capacity, recurrent lung infections, cirrhosis in his liver, and advanced kidney disease that led to dialysis.
“His quality of life was terrible,” says Dr. Emily DiMango, the director of the Gunnar Esiason Adult Cystic Fibrosis and Lung Program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “He had frequent infections and needed frequent hospitalizations. It was getting increasingly difficult to keep him stable.”
That all changed after Raymond underwent the first-ever triple transplant at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, receiving two lungs, a liver, and a kidney from one deceased donor. Raymond is the first lung-liver-kidney transplant patient in New York State and only the third such case reported in the United States, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network database. The 23-hour surgery started in the evening of July 16, 2020, and stretched into the next day, with a care team of more than 20 working around the clock to do their part.
Read more at healthmatters.nyp.org.