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Retired firefighter who received a double lung transplant is making progress: ‘I’m getting my life back’

ROCHESTER, Minn. – A retired firefighter who has a double lung transplant surviving means making big strides.

Walt Lindahl was living with a serious lung disease that doctors believe was related to his time as a paid on-call Bemidji firefighter.

“There were days when we weren’t sure if there would be a year,” says wife Amy Lindahl.

Walt and Amy Lindahl returned to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for a check-up after a double lung transplant.

“X-rays, pulmonary function tests, nurse visits, doctor visits and labs and we’re just going through everything to make sure everything looks good. Everything is going as it should be. So we have a positive outlook and everything what they did looks great,” said Walt Lindahl.

Walt Lindahl has come a long way since WCCO met him last year. His health deteriorated and the Lindahls lived near the hospital while awaiting the life-saving transplant.

“For the first time in probably two years, I really feel like I’m getting my life back and what an amazing feeling,” Walt Lindahl said.

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He gets out of a wheelchair and no longer needs his walker.

“It’s amazing to be able to move and get outside and feel the sun and fresh air again, it’s amazing what that does for you mentally and physically,” Walt Lindahl said.

He knows he’s here because of his life savers, including transplant surgeon Dr. Sahar Saddoughi. The two saw each other again during the recent visit to Mayo Clinic.

“There was a while there. I didn’t think I was going to get better,” Walt Lindahl told Dr. Saddoughi.

“But there’s always ups and downs. Right? It’s such a big commitment on your part, on the part of the caregivers,” said Dr. Saddoughi.

He says he is forever grateful to his donor and their family for the gift of life.

“Being an organ donor has so much more impact than just saving my life. You saved my wife’s husband, you gave them two daughters. You gave them their father’s life back and gave them more time” , said Walt Lindahl.

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The Lindahls will return to Mayo every three months for the next few years. Walt Lindahl continues to dispute his worker’s compensation denial.

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