An eight-year-old Edmonton boy will get to enjoy the "amazing gift" of a typical childhood after becoming Alberta's youngest double-lung transplant recipient.
Tahir Asif, who was born with cystic fibrosis, received new lungs during a seven-hour surgery at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton on April 21.
While his transplant does not cure the cystic fibrosis — there is no known cure for the genetic disease — doctors say it will allow Tahir to be a normal young boy again.
"I feel more energy," he told CBC News from his hospital room before he was discharged Thursday.
Tahir's parents, Asif and Nabila Jutt, are grateful their son will have a chance at a normal childhood.
The Jutt family, which includes Tahir's siblings Tayyeb, 10, and Afra, 6, moved from Yellowknife, N.W.T., to Edmonton last summer to be closer to Stollery.
"The people at the Stollery who cared for Tahir were so good," Asif Jutt said. "You just can't get better than that type of care. They were there for us every step of the way, medically and emotionally. We will never forget them."
Tahir was only the fifth patient under 17 years old to receive a pediatric lung transplant in Alberta. He will receive care at Stollery's pediatric lung transplant program throughout his childhood.
He said he is looking forward to September, when he's expected to attend public school for the first time in almost two years. He is also looking forward to swimming with his brother and sister and playing in his room.
Tahir was born with the often fatal disease, which causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs in the body, mainly the lungs, making breathing extremely difficult.
Wasn't expected to live beyond summer
Tahir has battled severe chest infections and required regular intravenous antibiotics since he was four.
When his deteriorating health became critical in November, he was referred for a lung transplant. By March, he required a full-time ventilator to breathe.
Without a lung transplant, doctors said they didn't expect he would live beyond summer.
"He was going downhill rapidly in the last two months," said Dr. John Mullen, surgical director of thoracic transplantation at the University of Alberta Hospital, who performed the transplant with a nine-member team.
"These children are really our gifts for our future. It's a great privilege and honour to be able to help them because they are literally dying from lung disease, every breath is a struggle."
"To go from being able to not breathe and struggle with every breath to be like a normal child again is just an amazing gift for these children."
Stollery's first pediatric lung transplant was performed in 2002.
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