|Len was 35 years old when he was told he had Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic protein deficiency that had caused him to develop a form of severe, progressive, and irreversible chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).|
During that difficult time, he recognised that a positive attitude and exercise were necessary to live. So, he pushed himself to get in the best shape possible to prepare for whatever the future would bring.
Len suffered a setback to his training as he required two hip replacements. After this surgery, he continued to train despite the problems with his lungs. These problems did lead to Len requiring a lung transplant.
Two years later, his life was saved by 14-year-old Korinne Shroyer, an organ donor. Len underwent an eight-and-a-half-hour double lung transplant procedure. Soon he was walking on the treadmill faster than he had in years.
Because of Len’s hip replacements, he was unable to run. So, he took up mountain biking. He built up his legs and his wind, raced on trails through the woods, and pushed himself to his limits.
Just as he was gaining strength, Len crashed his mountain bike and shattered his left femur. Hours of surgery and a lot of stainless steel plates, wires, and screws were required to put his leg back together. Worse yet, his lung transplant was less than three months old and stopped working. He was placed into a drug-induced coma.
Three weeks later, Len recovered his breathing. By focusing on his attitude and goals, he emerged ten months later in the best shape of his entire life.
In addition to the many races and training activities, Len has also run an 8K, a half marathon and a full marathon with Korinne Shroyer’s father, Kevin. Currently, Len is an Alpha-1 patient advocate, actively promoting awareness, early detection and treatment, and supporting individuals diagnosed with the disease.
His story has been featured in Sports Illustrated, HBO’s Real Sports, and many other programs, and he’s been featured as an American Thoracic Society patient speaker.
“I am enjoying my new opportunity for life and love with my wife, Christina, and our daughter, Ava Corinne. It may have had a lot of twists, turns, detours, and even a washed out bridge or two, but it’s still a glorious road that I continue to travel.”
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WSD is an initiative organised by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) in collaboration with the European Lung Foundation (ELF).