Fort Branch, Indiana man back at work after dual lung transplant
By PETE SWANSON Princeton Daily Clarion
Not quite 6 1/2 months after making history with a surgery that may have saved his life, Brandon Beal returned to work Monday.
“I think I’m ready to go back, ready to do something on our team, do something everyday,” the 29-year-old Fort Branch resident said of his return to TISA, where he is employed as a quality assessment technician.
“I think going back to work will build my endurance.”
The former Gibson Southern soccer player worked nearly six years at TISA in that role — auditing on the line, measuring seats and handling parts issues. But he had to step down in October 2007 due to the cystic fibrosis that sapped his energy and strength and required a lung transplant performed Jan. 21 by Dr. Alexander Patterson of Washington University in St. Louis.
The son of Larry and Marg Beal, and brother of former Gibson Southern and University of Southern Indiana soccer player Ali Beal-Edwards, became the the 1,000th adult to receive lung transplant surgery by Washington University’s medical staff at St. Louis’ Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
After a 90-day post-surgery treatment stay, Brandon returned home in late-April. Marg Beal spent those three months in St. Louis taking care of her son.
“There were two emotional times,” he said.
“First, when they telephoned and said they had a lung for me. We had to be in St. Louis within 12 hours.
“The second was when they wheeled me into surgery. Neither time did I fear for my life, but they were emotional because I was ready for surgery.”
Beal has come back a long way.
“The day after surgery, the medical staff had me walk in the hallway. They don’t want you stuck in bed,” he said.
“Even though I was holding on to the back of a wheelchair and had a few nurses alongside, walking was pretty tough. I didn’t have any balance.”
Beal also began walking on a treadmill.
“Probably a week later,” he said. “Five days a week.
“My speed was measured. I got up to 3 mph. At the start — oh my gosh! — it was maybe eight-tenths of a mile an hour.”
Released to return to his Fort Branch home, Beal began working out both at home and at Evansville’s Tri-State Athletic Club.
“In the house I did the treadmill. Outside I walked and rode a bike,” he said.
“At Tri-State I did light weightlifting workouts. Barbells weighing maybe seven or eight pounds.
“They also have what’s called a lap pool where I did swimming laps. Three or four times down and back. When I started I swam an hour or two, with breaks in there.
“I feel good, like I’ve made a complete 180-degree turn. I want to do stuff every day and try to stay active.
“I’m not yet where I want to be, but I’m far better than before the transplant. I want to keep building my endurance and live a normal life.”
Beal expects to work “regular eight-hour days, and overtime.,” though he still is required to return to St. Louis for monthly checkups.
Beal said he can’t say enough about “all the support I’ve received throughout all this. Not only mom, dad and Ali, but also from Ali’s husband Darrel.
“From my friend Kim Meeks. Her dad, Jeff Meeks, organized a pancake breakfast as one of my fundraisers.
“So many people have been involved in organizing golf scrambles and wiffleball tournaments to raise funds. Those wiffleball tournaments were so much fun, we may do another one.
“Some of the TISA employees have helped. And a lot of people everywhere have donated money.”
When Beal turned 29 on July 25, the family cookout celebrated not only that, but also July 21, the six-month anniversary of his lung transplant.
“That was cool,” he said.
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