Even as he waited on a lung transplant list, Jim Danley could sing – in fact, he made two CDs of himself performing classic popular songs as part of a fundraising effort to help cover transplant costs.
He received a lung at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL, Feb. 13, 2003. (Then he made another CD.) Life has been a roller coaster since then. He’s needed both hips replaced due to side effects of anti-rejection medicines; he had a cancer scare from a lump in his breast that turned out benign; he’s had enough rejection symptoms that he’s back on the transplant list at Shands. But he never stopped being grateful and upbeat.
The attitudes show in “My Precious Breath.” Danley says he wrote the poem “as a way to share my story, and to honor my unknown hero.” And no surprise, he’s still singing!
By James Danley
I noticed a problem breathing, so I went to a doc to see,
what was causing this weakness, what could be wrong with me?
So with the doc I talked, as he quizzed, poked, and measured,
until he had a name for the problem, affecting the lungs I treasure.
Alpha One Antitrypsin Deficiency was the big and scary name,
I knew that day my life would change, nothing would be the same.
But somehow I felt in control, and believe it or not I’m relieved,
My first fear was an immediate death, so indeed it’s good news I received.
And since my reaction was relief, and my constant attitude is upbeat,
I will accomplish what I must to survive, leaving no option of defeat.
Simply put, to describe this problem, there’s no enzyme your body makes,
to clean your lungs of smoke and junk, so your lungs deteriorate.
And at the same time, I am not in denial, I know my breathing will diminish,
someday I’ll need a lung transplant when the ones I have are finished.
To conclude, I now give thanks to an unknown organ donor,
how could I ever convey a tribute, that is worthy of your honor.
Indeed you’re such a hero, as I express my thanks here with such sorrow,
you have the forethought of passing on life, which will give me many tomorrows.