Sunday, September 14, 2008

A short, full life reaches an end

From the Winnipeg Free Press, Canada:

Lung transplants didn't dull his zest

By: Meghan Hurley

CORY Connell spent so much time at the Children's Hospital, the nursing staff started putting him to work.

"They really loved him there. He was there for a long time, so they got to know him really well," his father, Rene Connell, said. "He was like a Tasmanian devil. He was everywhere, so they put him to work."

Connell -- the youngest Canadian and first Manitoban to have a double- lung transplant -- died Sunday, September 7th at the age of 34.

Connell's family remembered him Monday as a fighter who wouldn't give up despite two double-lung transplants.

"It was just amazing. He fell in love, got married and he got to see his nephews and niece born and his brother married, his other brother graduate from university and he never would have seen any of that," said his mother, Joan Wardekker. "My most fond memory was when we had his first transplant. For the first time in his life, he was able to play hockey with his brothers."

Connell's family flipped through old photos Monday night, remembering a man who worried about everyone but himself.

"He was a nucleus that kept a lot of people together because everyone was around him," his stepmother, Denise Connell, said. "He keeps everyone together."

Connell's lungs were severely damaged when he was five years old in a fire he accidentally started while playing with matches.

He spent a long time in the hospital and when he was released, his lungs were in such bad shape that he needed a transplant.

In 1991, Connell's family faced a major dilemma -- they had to come up with a way to pay for daily living expenses in Toronto while their son had his first transplant. That would cost about $40,000 a year for Connell's father, who took an unpaid leave from work to care for his son.

The Winnipeg Free Press established a trust fund named A Chance for Cory to help Connell's family pay for non-medical expenses. Manitobans who donated to the trust fund raised more than $80,000 for the family.

"It was scary, because you put your life on hold for two years," Cornell's father said. "The Free Press and people in Winnipeg made it easier to do that. This sure took a lot of worry and stress out of the situation."

n 1997, Connell had a second double-lung transplant after his body began to reject the new lungs from the first operation.

Shortly before his second operation, he got engaged to a woman he met while they were both selling vacuum cleaners door to door. They got married on Valentine's Day in 1997.

Instead of flowers, donations can be made to the Winnipeg Humane Society.

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