NEW GLOUCESTER — George Carman was out snowblowing his driveway Thursday night.

Happily.

“He hasn’t done it for years,” said his wife, Amy, a smile in her voice.

On Feb. 3, 2011, Carman had a double lung transplant and it has been a year of milestones since. On June 3, the longtime volunteer firefighter went on his first post-surgery fire call, driving the truck and directing traffic. On Aug. 29, after a five-year absence, he returned to work at Morrison & Sylvester in Auburn. All that time and the company had held his job.

“It felt awesome to be back,” he said.

Carman, 45, was born with cystic fibrosis that slowly attacked his lungs and made it harder and harder to breathe. In 2004, community members and fellow firefighters started New Lungs for George to help his family raise funds for the heavy out-of-pocket costs of a transplant. He spent five months on an organ transplant waiting list after waiting five years to get on it.

“He was in the hospital from November until we got the call in February,” Amy said. “He went downhill kind of quick. He was on oxygen 24/7.”

The couple made plans to move to New York, to be close to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, just in case. Amy took a leave from her job Jan. 31. Four days later, George called her. There was a donor, a 17-year-old boy, and his lungs were a match.

“He helped seven other people (with his organs), which to me says something about the family,” Carman said.

Carman has been back to New York once a month for checkups since getting out of the hospital in April. The news after last week’s visit: His body isn’t showing signs of rejection and his lung function is at 118 percent. He’s down from 60 pills a day to 25.

“(I’m) doing everything healthy people can do, which is awesome,” he said. “I have almost no restrictions at all.”

He isn’t able to mow the lawn because of mold in the grass and can’t go into burning buildings during fire calls, but everything that can be done outside on a call, he can do. In December, he became New Gloucester Fire & Rescue’s lieutenant safety officer.

Carman would like to see New Lungs for George evolve into New Lungs for ME or New Lungs for US, a nonprofit to help others with cystic fibrosis. He and others are working on details for a spring fundraiser.

He plans to reach out to the organ donor’s family, but, Carman said, he’s stuck for now on what to say. It’s almost too big a thank you.

“It’s going to take a lot of thinking,” he said.

He and Amy are grateful to everyone who has helped along the way. The couple, married 20 years in May, have a daughter, Annie.

“(We want to) thank everybody for all the support they have given us,” Carman said. “We couldn’t have done any of it without them.”

Know someone everyone knows? We’re always looking for people to feature. Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]


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