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Cleveland Clinic's Oldest Lung Transplant Patient Now Breathing Easy

Donald Malone with his grandchild, Joe. Donald has two sons and a daughter and five grandchildren.
Donald Malone with his grandchild, Joe. Donald has two sons and a daughter and five grandchildren.

Age has no limit when it comes to a new chance on life.

Donald Malone, who celebrates his 80th birthday this July, had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. Although the lung disease interferes with a person’s ability to breath, Malone always kept himself in exceptional physical shape.

Even with his good health, many other healthcare facilities may have immediately turned Malone down for lung transplant consideration simply based on his age. Our caregivers looked past this number and evaluated his condition.

After three weeks of testing, his physician, Marie Budev, DO, Pulmonary Medicine, was amazed at how fit Malone was. He was accepted into our transplant program, with Ken McCurry, MD, Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, as Malone’s surgeon.

“Cleveland Clinic’s lung transplant group has always taken pride in evaluating and transplanting the most complicated cases,” says Dr. Budev. “We don’t set an upper age limit for transplant; instead, we evaluate physiological function. Older patients can benefit from transplants for many years, too.”

“My caregivers were truly fighting for me — they were and are on my side... Organ donation saved my life. I can breathe again. Without this, I would be a goner.”

Malone — the father of one of our physicians — is doing well, driving himself where he needs to go, playing cards every Wednesday night and is eager for the spring weather so he can get back out on his bicycle.

“My caregivers were truly fighting for me — they were and are on my side. They don’t care how much time it takes to help; they get me whatever I need,” says Malone. “Organ donation saved my life. I can breathe again. Without this, I would be a goner.”

His son, Donald Malone, Jr., MD, Psychiatry and Psychology, said he was overwhelmed with caregivers’ responsiveness to his family’s needs.

“My father’s care has been extraordinary,” says Dr. Malone. “Lung transplant is a long process with many ups and downs. Transplant patients and their families need to be ready for that. That being said, it clearly saved my father’s life, giving him more time with us.”

“You can donate money and time to many charities, but only through organ donation can you save up to eight lives,” says Dr. Budev.

Related Institutes: Respiratory Institute
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