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After 3 organ transplants, Brooklyn man defying all odds and training for 40-mile charitable bike ride

Brooklyn man training for TD 5 Boro Bike Tour after 3 organ transplants
Brooklyn man training for TD 5 Boro Bike Tour after 3 organ transplants 02:33

NEW YORK -  April is National Donate Life Month, and one Bay Ridge man has defied all odds, training for the TD 5 Boro Bike Tour after 3 organ transplants.

At 66 years old, the ease with which Jerry Cahill moves never betrays his lifelong health struggles.

Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 11, but inspired to be like his brothers, he became an athlete.

"The doctors told my mom and dad 'youre lucky if your son makes it to his 16th birthday,'" he explains to CBS 2's Hannah Kliger.  "The life expectancy was really around 12 or dad threw me into sports, I ended up playing football, baseball, basketball."

The life-threatening disorder eventually took a toll on his lungs, and on this day in 2012, he underwent a lung transplant at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. 

"It's the surgical risks and then post-operative recovery and then the second part is living with a lung transplant which is extremely challenging for many reason," says Dr. Selim Arcasoy, his pulmonologist and the hospital's Lung Transplant Medical Director. 

The recovery was long, but Cahill's passion for an active lifestyle only grew. After another health scare, in 2021 he learned he would need a kidney and liver transplant, a risky, 16 and a half hour long operation. Cahill says he came home on a walker and had to relearn to walk.

More than a year later, CBS 2's Hannah Kliger caught up with him in Owl's Head Park in Bay Ridge. as he trained for the charitable ride on May 7th, which he plans to do side-by-side with Dr. Arcasoy, who has been treating him for over a decade. 

"It represents a doctor's dream, right? The ability to do something very kind-of unique and extreme with a patient who was totally disabled before and after his many transplants, he's able to do a 40 mile bike ride," Dr. Arcasoy says. "And to be able to do that alongside him is kind of a privilege for me."

Cahill, who also works as a high-school pole vaulting coach, says his lifestyle is his way to honor his organ donors.

"Staying healthy, exercising," he says. "They're part of me now and I need to make sure I take care of them. They took care of me, I'm here because of my organ donors."

Just life his ever-turning bicycle pedals, when life pushed him down, he always got back up. 

Have a story idea or tip in Brooklyn? Email Hannah by CLICKING HERE.

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