Former MP takes breath and readies for swim

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LUNG transplant recipient Tony Hyams is planning to swap his bike for bathers opn Boxing Day to participate in the 1.2 kilometre Pt Leo swim classic. Picture: Supplied

FORMER Dromana MP Tony Hyams is saying thanks to doctors who gave him a double lung transplant by swimming in the Pt Leo Classic on Boxing Day.

The 74-year-old is tackling the 1.2 kilometre swim to raise money for research into lung disease in the knowledge that he was saved from a rare and potentially fatal lung disease four years ago.

Money raised will go to clinical and research work at the world-recognised respiratory unit at The Alfred Hospital to support those suffering from lung disease. The target is $20,000.

“The staff’s work at The Alfred is amazing; it’s like science fiction,” Mr Hyams said.

“Their post lung-transplantation survival rates are the world’s best with 96 per cent after one year and 74 per cent after five years.

“Sadly, lung disease is massively underfunded; it is often neglected and misunderstood.”

Mr Hyams said his decision to swim was also to show his gratitude to friends and family who supported him over the past four years.

If poor weather interferes with the Point Leo swim Mr Hyams will go for the 1.5km Portsea Swim Classic on 18 January. If possible, he’ll do both.

“I only really got back into training this year,” he said. “I enjoy it so much. I’ve had some lessons and got back some technique.”

Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible with all money going to the respiratory unit. “Most people never think about their lungs, taking for granted the fact that we breathe about 22,000 times every day,” Mr Hyams said.

“It came as a complete surprise to me and my family when I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

“We learnt that one in four people in Australia are affected by some kind of lung disease. From this point my journey with IPF took off in earnest, leading eventually to a double lung transplant.

“From my experiences along the way, I have learned that lung disease tends to be a poorly neglected and under-funded area of medical focus. There seem to be fewer funds allocated, less research and less available knowledge than with many other human disease areas.

“My aim is to assist by raising funds for, and building awareness of, IPF and other lung diseases through the Lungitude Foundation, by voluntary speaking engagements, mentoring and support of patient care.”

Donations to lungitude.com.au/campaigns/tony-hyams/

First published in the Western Port Times – 25 December 2019

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