PALO ALTO (KCBS) –Stanford doctors now know that exercise for lung-transplant patients is key to their survival. That’s why they created the “Transplant Boot Camp,” which now inspires the former patients to become athletes.

Amazingly, 18-year-old Brett Barker, who had a double lung transplant only eight weeks ago is able to climb the Stanford track bleacher stairs.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

”Right now I’m focusing on getting a lot of walking in,” said Barker. “I walk around the track as much as possible, and I like to hit the stairs for some extra cardio just for variation.”

Barker’s mother Sheri Johnnie said that it’s incredible how much her son can do thanks to this boot camp program.

”It is such a miracle,” said Johnnie. “Having watched him decline in health over the last several years, I would have had no idea that now he would be able to do so much. He’s becoming more independent every week.”

Anabel Stenzel, 39, who had a double lung transplant in 2000, helped to found the boot camp three years ago.

”When this was started, we really hoped that it would allow people with transplants to come and reach their maximum fitness potential,” said Stenzel. “Many times people look at transplant recipients as weak or sickly, but we really learned at the Transplant Games that we can achieve athletic prowess.”

Two decades ago, doctors were leery of recommending much physical activity, fearing that it might cause the lung to be rejected.

”I don’t think we understood as well the benefits of exercise because we didn’t understand the muscles after transplant really do need that extra training,” said Dr. David Weill, director of Stanford Hospital’s Lung Transplant Program. “Some of the medications that patients are on after transplant, particularly the steroid medication, actually saps the muscles of their ability to function properly.”

The hospital is now publicizing the boot camp in hopes of getting more people to consider becoming organ donors.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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