A Firefighter's Life-Saving Double Lung Transplant

Albert Pedroza was energetic and active, but one day on a hike with his son, he experienced difficulty breathing. Fighting the inner voice in his head that told him to brush it off, he could think only of his family as he scheduled a doctor’s appointment to get checked out.

When Pedroza was told that he had scarring on his lungs likely caused by a previous case of pneumonia or asbestos exposure, he accepted the fact that he would experience periodic breathing difficulties.

Little did he know that less than three years later, he would receive a double lung transplant at University Hospital.

Learning to Ask for Help

When Pedroza became ill, his life completely changed. He could no longer enjoy his favorite activities, such as running, hiking and biking. He lost his sense of independence, and soon found himself not only having to ask those around him for help, but learning to accept and rely on that help. 

“It was hard to allow myself to be served,” he said. “I felt selfish that I could no longer do things on my own. Through this process, though, my faith has been expanded and deepened. It’s a beautiful experience to see how loved you are. My relationships with friends and family have been strengthened by this.”

Transplant Waiting List

After only 19 days on the National Transplant Waiting List, Pedroza received a double lung transplant in May of 2022. Albert describes his bilateral lung transplant through University Health as a fantastic experience, without any signs of rejection or infection. His medical team included Dr. Edward Sako and many others who impressed Pedroza with their knowledge and ability to care for him. 

“Seeing my doctors and being proactive about my health saved my life,” Pedroza said. “The experience that the doctors and the whole team have is really impressive.” 

Since his transplant, Pedroza has acted as an advocate and shares his experience as a lung recipient with people who may be considering this same journey. “I posted my journey on social media and had a woman reach out to me about her husband who was hesitant to be placed on the wait list for a lung transplant. I had such a positive experience that I was happy to encourage him to go through the process, showing him that I’m living testament that life can get better,” he said.

Iron Sharpens Iron

Pedroza was also inspired by his SAFD brothers and sisters who championed a T-shirt campaign to help raise money for his medical expenses. “The T-shirt campaign was inspiring and humbling! There were people whom I'd never met that sent pictures of themselves wearing the Iron Sharpens Iron shirt,” he said. 

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” a Proverbs Bible verse that Pedroza has always held close to his heart now carries new meaning. “We can do a lot if we help each other. If we each do our part to be of service to others, we can make our community and our world a better place,” he said.

Lung Transplant at University Health

Learn more about the lung transplant program at University Health in San Antonio. 

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