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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 08, 2016

The Primal Transplant: A Story of Living with New Lungs, a New Lifestyle, and Swinging Kettlebells

By Guest
76 Comments

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2Hello, my name is John and I have been following The Primal Blueprint since May 5th, 2014. When I started I weighed 251 lbs with a BMI of 33.2. I was officially obese.

I also had a disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). My lungs were reacting to some past damage and had gone into overdrive creating scar tissue. Basically, they were turning into raisins. Outside of a lung transplant, there is no real treatment for this disease. There are a couple drugs that have recently been approved by the FDA that do help some people slow the progress of the disease, and more in the clinical trial pipeline that look even more promising.

29A803EC79F64396A871BF58A3934DD8

I needed to lose weight. I needed to lose weight so my body didn’t waste oxygen feeding fat. I also needed to lose weight so I could be considered for a lung transplant. There are not many lungs available for transplant, and ability to survive the procedure is one of the things that transplant teams look at when accessing potential candidates.

My lung capacity was less than 50% of normal. My lung’s ability to transfer oxygen to my blood was also less than 50% of normal. So basically with each breath I took, I was only getting somewhere around 25% of the oxygen of normal lungs.

80EDD6E8FBEE4262932BEBB0FB22D9EESo I started with The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation, and due to the IPF, I had to make some modifications to the exercise portion of the plan. I was on supplemental oxygen and I used up to 8 liters per minute on continuous flow for moderate exercise. Exercise exertion was limited by my blood oxygen saturation. It is important to keep oxygen saturation greater than 90% to help prevent organ damage and other complications.

Why did I choose The Primal Blueprint? I had a couple of reasons really. I already know that my body does not like sugar. Sugary foods made me cough and short of breath. Carbs have helped make me fat. Makes sense to cut out those two foods.

Another reason is that I know a man, Bill Vick, who has IPF and ran a 5K. Bill introduced me to The Primal Blueprint via an IPF forum. Bill and I share a doctor and I can verify that his story is real. Bill gave me some hope that I could improve my quality of life, and maybe even slow the progression of the disease via diet and exercise.

If you are interested, you can read my 21 Day (and beyond) Total Body Transformation journal here.

By October I had lowered my BMI to 28, the maximum BMI to be considered for a lung transplant at UT Southwestern in Dallas. During the transplant evaluation they found that outside of my lungs, I was very healthy. I passed the evaluation and was placed on the transplant list in November. I continued to lose weight, exercise as I could, and try to keep as healthy as possible.

On December 31st I was called into the hospital, and early January 1st, I received a bilateral lung transplant. The procedure went very well and my recovery was amazingly quick. I was released from the hospital after only nine days. That is exceptionally quick. Most lung transplant stays are at least twice that. I credit following the PB to my quick recovery. My core strength was good for the condition the rest of my body was in. I had worked hard to build a good gut bug colony, and I think they really helped me out there. I had also lost more weight, so it was easier for me to get out of bed and do physical therapy quickly.

I have had some issues. I came home on a feeding tube because of some swallowing issues following the procedure. That was resolved quickly. I also had an acute rejection issue that sent me back to the hospital for a week. The transplant team did an awesome job of resolving that issue.

I am no longer on oxygen and my blood oxygen saturation is normal. My new lungs are amazing. My lung capacity is over 80% of what would be expected for a healthy person of my age and size, and they work perfectly. I think of my donor, and their family every day. I cannot put into words just how much I appreciate the gift that they have given me.

Prior to the transplant, following the PB really helped reduce the symptoms of the IPF. Cutting out all refined sugars and grains got rid of my IPF cough. The cough can be debilitating for many IPF patients, and mine went away. I also had some skin sores that would not go away until I started following the PB. Within a couple of weeks they were gone. My acne also went away. Add to these successes my weight loss and increased energy levels, it was easy to stay on plan.

37A425DD95854ECCAC81C0D5851050F1When I started last May I weight 251 lbs. I wore XXL shirts and size 42 pants. Today I weigh 161 to 164 lbs depending on the day. I wear L shirts and very comfortable size 33 pants. I think phase one, weight loss, has been completed successfully.

Now for phase 2. The disease and the transplant had left me very weak. I have been working hard to regain strength and endurance. I am currently doing a 30 day walking challenge to get to 10k steps/day. I am at 8k/day. I can walk over 3 miles at a time now, one heck of an improvement over barely being able to make it from the couch to my bed. My phase 2 goal is to get back into shape, build my endurance, and… look good nekkid.

I use walking and exercise bands to improve my fitness. The transplant team just approved me to start working on push-ups, but I have to work from the kitchen counter and work my way up to the floor slowly. Pull ups are still a no. The transplant procedure involved cutting me from arm pit to arm pit and splitting my chest open like a clam shell. The sternum takes a long time to heal completely. Once I do, I am going to master the Primal Essential Movements.

My number one goal, which was suggested to me by a forum friend, Narrowminded, is to do a pull-up to my transplant scar. That’s going to take awhile, but it is a serious goal. That’ll be one heck of a success post! 🙂

John, April 2015

Update: April 2016

Do I have any updates? I have many ????

First, I have achieved a pull up. I am still working on doing a pull-up to my transplant scar.

I’ve mastered a couple of the Primal Essential Movements: Planks and Squats. I can also now walk from here to there, no matter how far away there is.

My transplant team is very, very happy with my progress. I am exceeding all expectations. My lung function is in the very top percentile, even for people with healthy lungs. My transplant scar is disappearing and following The Primal Blueprint is going a long way towards counteracting the negative side effects of my anti-rejection medications.

My fitness goal right now is to conquer the simple portion of Pavel’s Kettlebell: Simple & Sinister program. I will accomplish that goal by my birthday this year.

By following the PB, I have easily been able to keep the weight I have lost off, and get into much better shape. I’m probably in the best shape in 30 years or so.

PS: April is “National Donate Life Month,” and as part of their efforts to raise awareness and encourage people to register as organ donors, the organization PatientsLikeMe interviewed yours truly.

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76 Comments on "The Primal Transplant: A Story of Living with New Lungs, a New Lifestyle, and Swinging Kettlebells"

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Michael
Michael
1 year 4 months ago

This is awesome!

Gary
Gary
1 year 4 months ago

This is maybe the most inspiring success story of all! Congratulations on all you’ve achieved and here’s to continued good health in your future!

Alice
Alice
1 year 4 months ago

+1

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thank you.

Rick
Rick
1 year 4 months ago

Well done, John!

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thanks!

Geranium
Geranium
1 year 4 months ago

You rock!! Love your attitude!
(I have “organ donor” on my driver’s license.)

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thanks, and it is awesome that you have let folks know that you are willing to donate your organs.

Mike
Mike
1 year 4 months ago

Wow, thank you for this great story. As a Physician Assistant who has a couple patients on various transplant lists this is encouraging. Though I tell them about the Primal lifestyle, sharing a story like this may be the small thing needed to get them over the edge. Congratulations John!

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thank you Mike. You know… the PA’s on my medical team are all pretty awesome. I really appreciate you guys.

Rusty
Rusty
1 year 4 months ago

WOW! Congratulations, you are an inspiration!

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thanks!

Jen
Jen
1 year 4 months ago

I find all MDA success stories super inspirational, but THIS ONE. This is phenomenal. Go, John!

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thank you Jen.

Nat
Nat
1 year 4 months ago

Wow! Keep it up!
And please everyone make sure that you are an organ donor 🙂

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thanks!

ender kulan
1 year 4 months ago

excellent stuff man 🙂 i have been an donor license holder for many years , funny fact about this is that in the netherlands a bill was passed that anyone above a certain age was automaticly made donor unless you objected with a certain form that you had to fill out. we gained a couple of million people as possible donors in just one day 🙂

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thanks Ender, I did’t know that about the Netherlands. Have there been any published studies of pre and post law average wait list times and mortality rates while on the list?

Chloe
Chloe
1 year 4 months ago

What an incredible story John! Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey to health

LemonCactus
LemonCactus
1 year 4 months ago

“Inspirational” is an overused word, but nothing else fits. The whole world improves when people like you are in it, John! Thank you!

Jessica
1 year 4 months ago

What a truly amazing story! None of us have any valid excuses….not when you’ve accomplished so much in so little time against such obstacles. Congratulations!

Elizabeth
1 year 4 months ago

Wow, John, your story gave me the chills. This is so inspiring! A true success story on so many levels. Thanks for brightening my Friday!!

Larry
Larry
1 year 4 months ago

Best success story ever!

Beensi
Beensi
1 year 4 months ago

+1

Chris
Chris
1 year 4 months ago

You rock, John! God bless you!

Ken
Ken
1 year 4 months ago

What an amazing story John – thank you for the wonderful inspiration!

John Caton
1 year 4 months ago

John, I have been one of your admirers since when you were waiting for the call to receive your transplant. I’m a frequent reader of your journal. Therefore, I am familiar with your awesome story. Despite that, reading it here brought back my appreciation and admiration of your awesome courage and success. Whatastory!

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thanks John, I appreciate your kind words.

Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons
1 year 4 months ago

Thank you for sharing your exceptional journey, John! Looking forward to your next update in 2017!

Whitney Treadwell
Whitney Treadwell
1 year 4 months ago

Grok on John!!!! Awesome work.

Cheri
Cheri
1 year 4 months ago

Such an inspirational story! Thanks for sharing John.

Anita
Anita
1 year 4 months ago

Your story is so inspirational. Keep swinging (those kettlebells). 😉

einstein
einstein
1 year 4 months ago

awesome! you got real balls man, like a rhino, only bigger 🙂

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Now that made me laugh. Thanks 🙂

Sandy
Sandy
1 year 4 months ago

Great story! So wonderful that you were able to improve so much. I’m beyond thrilled for you!!

laura
1 year 4 months ago

Your outlook for the future must have improved considerably! What an inspiring story – Thank you for sharing. These Friday stories are a weekly dose of motivation. Your courage and ability to just keep moving forward in the face of so many obstacles attests to the strength of the human spirit, and today, we celebrate the strength of your spirit in particular!

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thank you Laura.

laura
1 year 4 months ago

🙂

Island Girl
Island Girl
1 year 4 months ago

Wow! You look like a completely different person in the after photo. I had to compare the tattoos to be sure! I so admire your optimism and can-do attitude that got you started with the PB. If only more people realized how much power they have to affect their own health. You’re a walking ad for it!

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

One cool thing about losing the weight is that my ink is more vivid.

Jersey Guy
Jersey Guy
1 year 4 months ago

Nice story, John! Keep swinging those bells, my friend!

Suzanne
Suzanne
1 year 4 months ago

Wow. This is amazing!

Kara
Kara
1 year 4 months ago

Incredible indeed! Sharing your story will inspire countless others. Thank you!

Salina
Salina
1 year 4 months ago

What an inspirational story! The power of giving our bodies the right food is amazing.

Vanessa
Vanessa
1 year 4 months ago

This is wonderful and you have made such good use of this information that Mark shares with everybody. I’m thrilled for you!

HealthyHombre
HealthyHombre
1 year 4 months ago

John if I had one-half the courage and attitude you have I’d be twice the man I am today.

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thank you Sir.

HillyM
HillyM
1 year 4 months ago
Wow John, what an awesome story. I live with a kidney transplant recipient who is in wonderful health. Fortunately he hasn’t ever had a weight issue, so hasn’t faced the journey you have taken. Well done you, and I agree that this is a story to be shared with others who have chronic illness requiring transplant. There are many who can’t get on those waiting lists because of their weight, but I bet many also would say “how can I lose weight & exercise when I’m so sick?”. You have proved them wrong – spread the word my friend. Organ… Read more »
jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thank you Hilly. I think of my donor family every single day. They are my Super Heros.

Mark
1 year 4 months ago

Congrats on your success, thanks for sharing your story!

wildgrok
wildgrok
1 year 4 months ago

wow amazing, very inspiring, you rock

Jenny
Jenny
1 year 4 months ago

I think this is the most amazing story I have read on PB. I hope it encourages others, and gives them hope too. Well done, because you have certainly helped yourself.

Georgina
Georgina
1 year 4 months ago

John, awesome journey. I wish you many more adventures! What strikes me about your story is that you seemed to have come to terms with you situation. You then dealt with it in a proactive manner. Your gratitude for celebrating each day is warming the hearts of those who have been touch by organ transplant. Also, yours is a story that shows an amazing team (and you are the leader) . Primal lifestyle, modern medicine and the generosity of the donor family… No wonder you are grateful! Peace, Georgina

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Thank you Georgina

DavidA
DavidA
1 year 4 months ago

John – Very inspirational! I enjoy reading your journal. Stories like yours give me hope and help me maintain my own discipline. Thank you for sharing.

Caroline
Caroline
1 year 4 months ago

What an inspiration! Thank you for sharing and best wishes as you continue your journey.

Joe
1 year 4 months ago

Great post. Awesome work John. Very inspiring!

Adda ap Henri
Adda ap Henri
1 year 4 months ago

Fantastic story…keep on keeping on man! In Wales, we’ve adopted an opt out law on organ donation (the only country of the UK to do so). Basically, everyone is considered a potential donor unless they specifically opt out of the scheme.
Please keep us updated on your progress!

Cara
1 year 4 months ago

A truly inspiring & dedicating story !!
Each word of the story from the beginning to the end is very motivational and teach us how to fight against the odds in our life. Thanks for putting these words here in a form of story. Keep doing good work….!!!

Mirrabooka
Mirrabooka
1 year 4 months ago

John, you just gave me the most valuable motivation to be the heatheist I can be… from now on my heathstyle will be dedicated to those who need an organ when I can’t use them anymore.
Thank you for your story.
Sincerely,
Meredith

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

That is just awesome Meredith.

Cliff
Cliff
1 year 4 months ago
This is pretty amazing John. I usually shy away from leaving comments on forums, but this one just hit too close to home. I too have IPF and am right in the middle of my evaluation to be considered for a bilateral lung transplant plant myself. I have been living with this disease for several years now and it is no picnic. I started on the Primal Blueprint about three years ago and lost 67 pounds doing it. My pulmonologist said it was one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. I was actually sprinting when… Read more »
jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Hi Cliff, I am so happy that you found this post. Before my transplant I did my sprints on a recumbent bike. It took me awhile to convince the pulm rehab team that it was ok and I could not go all out at pulm rehab because they would not let me turn the O2 up high enough. At home I could crank it up high enough to maintain my O2 saturation.

If you ever want to talk with someone who’s been there done that, let me know.

Reya
Reya
1 year 4 months ago

Wow! I have so many mixed emotions about donor transplants but to hear that you think of your donor and how appreciative you are melts my heart. Congratulations!

Jane
Jane
1 year 4 months ago

Haha. Great story. Love the goal of looking good nekkid. Doesn’t matter what you go thru, who you are or age. Everyone secretly wants to LGN!
Congrats. You are a miracle!

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Keep on keeping on… that’s one of my mantras, along with Repeat Until Strong.

jrosto
1 year 4 months ago

Wow. Thank you everyone for your very kind words and encouragement, they really are appreciated.

Julian
Julian
1 year 4 months ago

I about teared up. GREAT STORY! Thank you.

bonbon
bonbon
1 year 4 months ago

This is such an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing your journey of incredible perseverance and bravery!

perennialpam
perennialpam
1 year 4 months ago

You kept this a secret? Glad you wrote for this feature—you are our special star, John!

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