NEW GLOUCESTER — A 44-year-old New Gloucester firefighter is in the process of getting a new pair of lungs in an effort that is expected to relieve him from a lifetime of cystic fibrosis.

George Carman was transported from Maine Medical Center in Portland to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan, N.Y., Wednesday night and was in the middle of a six- to eight-hour surgery Thursday afternoon.

A perfect match had been found for the double-lung procedure and Carman, who last fall was given priority status because of his deteriorating lung condition, was prepped for the surgery.

Carman has been involved in the fire service for more than 22 years, 20 years of that serving the town of New Gloucester, according to his supporters, who started the New Lungs for George campaign. Supporters are posting updates on Facebook, New Lungs For George.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that causes infections and other problems. 

“He had spent most of the last four months in the hospital, with only a day or two out, between each two-week visit at ‘club med,’ as he refers to Maine Medical Center,” Carman’s friend and fellow firefighter, Scott Doyle, wrote in an e-mail Thursday.

“It was a very grateful and emotional sendoff last night at MMC. He was still George as he departed, smiling, laughing and ready to go!  He was in great spirits, but he always is,” wrote Doyle, who is chairman of New Lungs for George and captain of the town’s fire and rescue service.

Supporters estimate it will cost about $1.4 million for the operation and aftercare. Insurance is expected to cap at $1 million and the group has raised more than $200,000 so far.

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