Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Jazz singer celebrates 2nd anniversary of double-lung transplant

I never cease to be amazed by the transformation that takes place in a person following an organ transplant. At a recent event I was introduced to Alex Pangman. They said she was a double-lung recipient and "our singer" for the cocktail hour. Little did I know how great a singer she was until I heard her from another room. I could have been listening to any of the great jazz singers from the 20's, 30's and 40's. Since then I found out that Alex has become an advocate for organ and tissue donation and works closely with Trillium Gift of Life Network in Ontario. Alex says she also rides her horse 5 days a week. Visit Alex's Web Site.

This Thursday, November 4th, Alex and her Alleycats will celebrate the 2nd anniversary of her double-lung transplant at the the RESERVOIR LOUNGE, 52 Wellington Street East, Toronto. 7-9pm, $5 (Alex and the Alleycats perform at the Reservoir Lounge on the first Thursday of every month).

Also, watch for Alex Sunday December 5th at Joe Mama's, 317 King Street, Toronto. 7-11pm. Alex Performs with guitarist Nathan Hiltz, and group.

The following is from an article in The World of The Whole Note

It’s nothing short of remarkable that Pangman is one of Canada's most breathtaking jazz singers, given that she was born with cystic fibrosis. This incurable genetic disease debilitates the lungs, causes persistent shortness of breath, frequent pulmonary inflammation and in many cases ultimately requires lung transplantation.

And that’s exactly what it came down to by late 2008. By that autumn, Pangman was in a devastatingly fragile state, requiring an oxygen tank for simple tasks like getting dressed and walking her dog. Down to 27 percent of her lung capacity, a double lung transplant became her only hope, and she was on a waiting list for six agonizing months. Thankfully and very luckily, a donor came through just in time. On November 4, 2008, Pangman was given a second chance at life. This is how she recollects that life-changing day:

“It was 9:07 am precisely when my cell phone rang at my bedside. I had just slipped into a nice dream about washing my hair when the phone woke me with a startle. ‘Hello, this is Toronto General Hospital calling. We may have a set of lungs for you today. We need you to come to admitting right away.’”

She continues: “At the hospital I got admitted, x-rayed, ECG’d, blood-sucked, swabbed, looked over, and autographed by the surgeon so quickly! As we were all sitting around feeling anxious, the door to my room swung open and the nurse announced triumphantly, ‘1 pm – Operating Room time!’

“Now, saying goodbye to the ones who raised me wasn’t easy, but it all happened so quickly, I just did it. I handed over my glasses for safekeeping. A hug from Mom over the side of the gurney cannot possibly encapsulate the love or gratitude one feels for the lifetime of unconditional love, or can it? Another hug from Dad who said he loved me (something Dad finds easier to express through car washes and greeting cards) with the added, ‘Kick some butt!’

“And then I turned to Tom, my sweet handsome groom, whose eyes were filled with tears of joy and fear and gladness and everything. I looked at him wondering if it’d be the last time, or just the last time with these lungs. But taking my eyes off him was very hard to do. This could be the start of something big! Then the stretcher started to roll away and I think I remember mother nervously joking, ‘I suppose I should be offended that she’s exchanging something I gave her!’ (the lungs).

“I pulled a smile, sort of excited and shy to roll into the O.R. and found it much smaller than I’d imagined. ‘Is this where it’s going to happen?’ I remember asking. Despite my lack of glasses (I’m not that short sighted!) I saw a group of focused people all at work. Someone numbed my arm, started a line here and there, movement all around. I spoke up and said something nervous and silly along the lines of, ‘Okay team, I’m a singer. So lets hope the intubation goes well and I’m back singing someday, huh?’”

Since the successful double lung transplant, Pangman has been back in business and singing more sweetly than ever before. She doesn’t need oxygen for simple everyday tasks. She is feeling “so grateful for each and every day.” How does it feel to be public about her disease and her transplant?

“Well, to tell the truth, it felt at first a little bit like leaving your house without your clothes on,” she laughs. “In the past I kept my health hidden because I always wanted to be thought of as a singer, rather than a singer with a disability. But I must say it feels good because I know that in raising awareness I have the chance to really change people’s lives. I’m in a unique position in that my lungs are also my art – I’m an artist who depends on her lungs. It is a bit weird I guess, to hear of a singer who got a lung transplant, and if that gets people’s attention, then that’s what I’m here to do.”

A three time National Jazz Award nominee, Alex is a favorite of jazz fans and dancers alike and has become one of Canada's leading classic jazz and traditional-swing vocalists.

"In Alex Pangman's musical world, hot tunes flow like bathtub gin in a back-alley speakeasy. She roars through a repertoire of vintage swing and blues, possessed by the coltish spirit of a young Mildred Bailey or Ella Fitzgerald. There are champagne bubbles in Pangman's voice as she growls, sighs and wears her heart on her sleeve. There's a lot of nudging and winking with today's neo-trad jazz stylists. Not Pangman. She plays it straight and she plays for keeps."
- The Montreal Gazette, Mary Lamey

"It's time-travel magic whenever Alex Pangman breathes into a microphone and evokes the great jazz femmes of the 1920s, 30s and 40s."
- Lenny Stoute, The Toronto Star

Read her Biography.
More Biography.

Alex Pangman has had both lungs replaced. She continues to advocate for organ donation and awareness. "If I need to be the poster child for that, to catch their attention, then so be it," she says.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario at Trillium Gift of Life Network NEW for Ontario: recycleMe.org - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

No comments: