DALLAS (CBS11) - Neil Herskowitz is a Dallas Mavericks name you've never heard of. He's worked behind the scenes for the Mavs for eight years, while fighting a losing battle with Cystic Fibrosis. He was ready to give up.
"I was on the ground just trying to get any gasp of air that I could, I said "I can't go on like this," said Herskowitz.
Herskowitz was in his fifth year working in the Mavs' equipment room, coming off the 2011 NBA Championship season when his own world began to crumble.
"He was getting weaker, he was losing weight," said head coach Rick Carlisle.
Coach Carlisle, players and staff watched and worried.
"We would talk about it all the time, it was very hard to see him go through it, on a daily basis to see the struggle, to see him deteriorating," said Al Whitley, equipment manager.
"You're thinking to yourself, 'I don't want to see him die, week by week by week' It was gut wrenching," said assistant coach Brad Davis.
By mid 2012, oxygen bottles were the link to living for Herskowitz. He was almost out of options. He needed a double lung transplant. The same kind his younger brother went through, only to die a few years later.
"Toward the end he had to have a scooter, assistance. He had to have oxygen, and dialysis and all those things," recalled Herskowitz.
He decided he didn't want to go through that.
"I was like, you know, nobody is really going to miss me," said Herskowitz. "They'll be sad a little bit, but I was on record as saying it will be better, because I'm a burden to everyone."
But as the clock began to run out for him...
"A lot of people got to him over time, and he decided life was worth fighting for," said Coach Carlisle.
In October 2015, Herskowitz received his double lung transplant.
Now he's celebrating a little more than a year since he got his new lungs. Organ donation is a big reason Herskowitz got this second shot at life.
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