Kenmore Mercy Hospital Pulmonary Rehabilitation Patient Treasures New Lease on Life

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March 7, 2013

“Inspiration for Life” is this year’s theme for Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week, March 10-16. If you ask the nurses at Kenmore Mercy Hospital’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center what that means, they point to their patients. One in particular who stands out is John DiBartolomeo, a 58-year-old Lancaster resident, who is recovering from his second bilateral lung transplant.

In 1995, DiBartolomeo was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease in which the lung tissue becomes thickened, stiff and scarred over time. The disease rapidly progressed, and DiBartolomeo received his first double lung transplant in 2006. However, in 2011, his body began rejecting the transplanted lungs, and his health started to decline. Last July, he received his second double lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic.

Rehab is a Requirement for Lung Transplant Patients

According to Lisa Finn, RN, from Kenmore Mercy’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center, “Pulmonary rehabilitation should be part of the treatment plan for every patient with advanced lung disease, but it is a requirement for lung transplant patients. John has been faithfully coming to the center three times a week since he began the program in 2006.”

He just returned to rehabilitation a few weeks ago after months of recuperation in Cleveland.

John spends time on the treadmill as part of his pulmonary rehabilitationPulmonary Rehabilitation Gave DiBartolomeo Strength

“Going to pulmonary rehabilitation, working with the nurses and being supported by my peers gave me the strength to get through the surgery,” said DiBartolomeo.

Pulmonary rehabilitation provides training to improve the patient’s ability to manage and cope with progressive symptoms caused by lung disorders that lead to inactivity, helps reduce the number and length of hospitalizations, and increases the patient’s chances of living longer. Like many of Kenmore Mercy’s pulmonary rehabilitation patients, DiBartolomeo will continue his maintenance program and participate in their weekly support group.

Volunteer Work Keeps DiBartolomeo Busy

Before his diagnosis, DiBartolomeo worked as a general manager of food service at the University at Buffalo and enjoyed running, racquetball and bowling. He also was able to do everyday chores around the house such as lawn care, painting and general repairs.

While he may not be able to enjoy those activities any longer, he keeps busy volunteering for Upstate New York Transplant Services and his parish community at Our Lady of Pompeii Ministry Center in Depew.

His family, friends, and the nurses at Kenmore Mercy’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center admire DiBartolomeo’s courage and strength and truly believe he is an inspiration for life.