PERU — With a new set of lungs and determination of steel, Chad Kiniry will celebrate Christmas at home in Peru.
“We didn’t tell anybody we were coming home because we didn’t want to jinx it,” his fiancee, Lindsay Mold, said on Thursday.
Kiniry, 33, who has cystic fibrosis, traveled a rocky road over the past year, with months in hospitals and coming close to death more than once.
He had been put on the list for a lung transplant in December 2012 but then fell ill last spring with an infection that wasn’t responding to antibiotics.
It spread to his bloodstream, and he suffered respiratory failure and was put on life support.
Flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Kiniry was hooked up to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (ECMO) that did the work for his lungs.
The ECMO is effective for a limited time, however, and while he was put back on the transplant list on July 3, the machine stopped working for him on July 7.
In the absence of donor lungs, the only way to save his life at that point was to connect the ECMO directly to his heart.
That surgery was minutes away when the call came — donor lungs had been found.
It was perfect timing, Mold, said — like something straight out of a movie.
“I always wanted to be a movie star,” Kiniry joked.
While the double lung transplant gave him a new lease on life, it brought with it other monumental issues, including a paralyzed vocal cord and pneumonia.
His stomach isn’t emptying food correctly, and he’s currently fed through a tube.
So he’s not looking forward to Christmas dinner, he said, but his appetite for time with his family and friends is enormous.
“I’m very glad to be home,” he said.