Free of ventilators, a young boy receives the breath of a new life, through new lungs.

The province’s youngest lung-transplant recipient was discharged from the Stollery Children’s Hospital on Thursday.

Eight-year-old Tahir Asif was on a list for a donor for six months before he successfully received new lungs during the transplant on April 21.

“After the surgery he spent seven days in the intensive care unit,” said Dr. Jackson Wong, clinical lead of the pediatric lung transplant program at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, and Tahir’s physician. “And we were able to remove his breathing tubes by day four, and then a few weeks down the road he was already eating, drinking, and even running around, so really great progress.”

Tahir was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog organs, predominantly the lungs, making it tough to breathe, and without the transplant, he was not expected to live past the summer.

“It is emotional,” said Dr. John Mullen, surgical director of thoracic transplantation at the University of Alberta Hospital, who performed the surgery. “Here is a child that was stuck on a ventilator and Jackson was worried sick because we knew there wasn’t much time left, and we weren’t sure if we were going to get a set of lungs for him, so we were very fortunate.”

According to Dr. Mullen, the only major challenge when doing a lung transplant in a small child is accommodating for the child to continue growing.

The transplant has not cured the disease but will allow him to feel like a normal little boy again.

“I can go home and play with my brother and sister.” Tahir said. “I’m gonna go swimming and biking.”

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