Jerry Cahill's Story

NewYork-Presbyterian has been like a family to me. They’re my lifeline. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be alive today.

Living, Breathing Proof

Jerry CahillWhen Jerry Cahill was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 10, he and his parents were told he might not live to see his 16th birthday. Now, nearing 60, he has beaten the odds and proudly says, “I’m living, breathing proof!”

After Jerry’s diagnosis, his father wanted him to play sports with his four brothers. “Nobody with CF was involved with sports back then,” says Jerry. “Turns out, all the exercise helped keep my lungs clear.”

Jerry became a patient at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center after being dissatisfied with an adult pulmonologist who told him he might have to live with setbacks as his new baseline. Jerry began seeing Dr. Larry Schulman, a pulmonologist, who in turn led him to Dr. Emily DiMango, Director of the Gunnar Esiason Adult Cystic Fibrosis and Lung Program.

“NYP/Columbia has become like my friends and family,” says Jerry. “They’re my lifeline – I have a whole team!” In addition to Drs. Schulman and DiMango, that team includes Dr. Selim Arcasoy, pulmonologist, Nilani Ravichandran, coordinator, and Dr. Salvatore Caruana, head and neck surgeon.

On April 18, 2012, Jerry underwent a lung transplant, performed by Dr. Joshua Sonett, Chief of General Thoracic Surgery at NYP/Columbia. Post-transplant, Jerry has faithfully followed his doctors’ orders. “Dr. Sonett has been great about saying, ‘Do what you want, just stay active.’ Being active is really important after transplant because you’ve got to get your lungs strong and keep them clear.”

On Thursday, September 24, 2015, Jerry finished a 500-mile bike race arriving at NewYork-Presbyterian’s Milstein campus and completing a ride to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis. “With CF I believe you have to be in it to win it,” he says. “If I were seen at a different CF clinic, there would be no connection. I am very blessed and grateful that I had a transplant and a great team…it really is a gift and I appreciate life every day.”

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