Skip to main content
Ralph Harris
Ralph's Story
Ralph Harris at the hospital
Pulmonary Fibrosis

After watching your dad and sister pass from the same disease you are diagnosed with, you come to accept that it is part of your life and learn to stay positive.  For four years, I had to carry a backpack with oxygen everywhere I went and got used to people staring and looking at me differently. I had to accept that it was part of my life since there was nothing I could really do to change it.

My Lung Story

Ralph Harris was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in 2016, a disease that had earlier claimed the lives of his sister and father. His sister Karen had needed a double lung transplant but never received new lungs and unfortunately passed away in 2014.

Pulmonary fibrosis affects one’s breathing as it causes the part of the lung where oxygen is moved to the blood to become thick and stiff. Simply put, pulmonary fibrosis is the scarring of the lungs. With this disease, it is hard to fully expand the lungs when taking a breath, thus making breathing very difficult.

Breathing is essential to everything we do consequently Ralph’s life changed after his diagnosis. He was worried about the family he might be leaving behind if anything happened to him. Ralph had to make some lifestyle changes as his job had entailed a lot of physical labour and he had also enjoyed a lot of outdoor activities like golfing and hunting. He was however determined to stay positive through it all.

In his words, “After watching your dad and sister pass from the same disease you are diagnosed with, you come to accept that it is part of your life and learn to stay positive.  For four years, I had to carry a backpack with oxygen everywhere I went and got used to people staring and looking at me differently. I had to accept that it was part of my life since there was nothing I could really do to change it.”

After a four-year wait, Ralph got the call to receive new lungs in 2020.  It was a call that changed his life forever! There was however one more hurdle to cross, his chest had shrunk and the doctors had to shave the new lungs so they could fit into his body. Thankfully, the double lung transplant surgery was successful and there were no complications afterward.


IMPROVING LUNG HEALTH ONE BREATH AT A TIME

Ralph’s first contact with Lung Saskatchewan was through a Facebook Post; he later joined the Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Group and remained active in the group even after his surgery. He also applied for the Caring Breaths Financial Assistance Program to help lessen the financial burden they were faced with at that time. Amongst other things, the Caring Breaths Financial Assistance Program reimburses some of the expenses incurred by patients during treatments for lung diseases.