Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

A Tough Ride

For cystic fibrosis patient and lifelong cyclist Peter Kavanagh, it’s all about adaptability. That’s why a month after receiving a lung transplant at UF Health Shands Hospital in January 2017, he was back on his bike.

At a young age, Peter was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and since then, he’s been in the hospital 70 times. For him, living with the disease meant that he always had to work extra hard at everyday tasks.

“It’s an invisible disease sometimes,” Kavanagh said. “Many people don’t understand what it takes to live with cystic fibrosis. There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve missed out on and it put a toll on me.”

Peter was 19 years old when he had his first transplant evaluation and wasn’t sure if he was ready for the procedure. He held off as long as he could, but his health started to decline.

“He was getting sick really fast and that’s when the entire team got together and we started to anticipate scenarios,” UF Health Lung Transplant Surgical Director Tiago Machuca, MD, PhD, said. “We decided to perform the lung transplant. His operation was challenging in terms of dissecting the lungs from the chest wall and from all of the repeated infections and the inflammation.”

Although it wasn’t an easy recover, Peter was resilient.

“We could see that he was really committed to his recovery,” Machuca said. “He was extremely compliant and full of energy.”

After a month, Peter was back on his bike, even though people told him that it was too soon. Since he’s started cycling again, Peter has ridden several hundred miles.

Since his recovery, Peter has focused on giving back whether if it’s through donating masks to transplant patients, participating in “Walk for Wishes” for the Make-A-Wish Foundation or serving as support for patients who are going through lung transplants.

“If I’m in a position to give back, I will.”

Lung transplant patients like Peter will now benefit from our newest facility opening, the UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital, where heart and lung transplants will be performed. These patients will also been seen for follow up surgical appointments at the new UF Health Surgical Specialists practice on the first floor of the new hospital.

Read more about this new facility and view a 360-degree tour of the building. or learn more about our lung transplant program.

About the Author

Katrina Ciccarelli McAfee

Marketing and Communications Specialist

Katrina serves as marketing and communications specialist for the University of Florida Department of Surgery within the UF Health marketing team. She creates and implements marketing and advertising plans for...Read More