Cale recovering after double transplant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2005

CHAPEL HILL – Kevin Cale has a new lease on life.

Stricken with cystic fibrosis for most of his life, Cale, now age 34, underwent what has been termed by a family member as &uot;successful&uot; surgery here last week at UNC Hospital.

Both of Cale’s lungs were replaced during the surgery, conducted on April 18.

&uot;Everything went along just fine,&uot; said Kim Bazemore, Cale’s sister. &uot;Kevin is doing wonderful. He had the (post-surgical) ventilator removed Monday night and was sitting up in a chair by Wednesday.&uot;

Even more remarkable, especially after an eight-hour surgical process, Cale was up and walking on Wednesday night.

&uot;He’s on his way to recovery,&uot; Bazemore said. &uot;The thoughts and the prayers that have been offered up for Kevin and our family have gotten us through this. Please keep Kevin in your prayers. He still has a ways to go.&uot;

According to Bazemore, Cale is expected to remain in the hospital for approximately two more weeks. He will then be moved to a Chapel Hill apartment in order to remain close to his medical team as he begins three months of rehabilitation.

&uot;We’re looking so much forward to the day when Kevin can return home to Ahoskie,&uot; Bazemore concluded.

Cale was the subject of numerous fundraisers to help he and his family overcome the $300,000 operation. He is expected to need another $10,000 per year, for the remainder of his life, for medication.

He worked at the Ahoskie Wal-Mart. There, his former co-workers rallied to his side, hosting car washes and bake sales to raise money for the operation.

&uot;Kevin didn’t like to think of himself as sick, so most people didn’t know that he had been diagnosed with the disease because he just wanted to do his job and be one of the guys,&uot; said one of his former co-workers, Angie Fitzhugh.

Cale’s story is one of hope and courage.

He recalled having medical problems as early as age 10. Despite numerous tests, doctors still did not know the extent of his ailment until two years later.

Cale underwent breathing treatments three to four times a day and was a frequent patient at the hospital. But yet his life moved forward – graduating from Hertford County High School followed by jobs at Wal-Mart, Contractor’s Corner and finally Sportsman’s Edge from where he finally was forced to stop working in October of 2003 due to failing health.