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Philadelphia lung transplant patient throws first pitch at White Sox-Phillies game

Philadelphia lung transplant patient celebrates milestone at Phillies game Friday night
Philadelphia lung transplant patient celebrates milestone at Phillies game Friday night 02:44

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch is usually reserved for celebrities and heroes. Friday at the Phillies game, that honor went to a local transplant patient.

Temple Health is celebrating a transplant milestone at the Phillies game Friday night, hosting dozens of transplant patients. And one of them had the thrill of a lifetime.

Transplant patient Steve Tirney loves baseball so much that he has a favorite saying.

"Because I was a pitcher, I would say, 'give me the ball,'" Tirney said.

A dream experience was being in Clearwater in 1993 at Phillies Fantasy Camp. But four years ago his health was thrown a curveball. 

"I kind of fell off the cliff. I got really bad very quickly," Tirney said.

The now 70-year-old was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease, which causes scarring of the lungs and there is no cure.

"So when they said, you know, the only way is a lung transplant, I said, 'give me the ball,'" Tirney said. "At the time, not being able to breathe, I would have done anything just to be able to breathe."


Doctors at Temple discovered Tirney also needed a heart bypass which was done at the same time as the lung transplant.

Dr. Albert Mamary with Temple Health said Tirney is among thousands of successful transplant patients.

"It's been 120 to 145 patients, individual patients that we've been able to help every year," Mamary said. "That's really the aim here, is to add years of life to patients who otherwise wouldn't have that opportunity."

Temple is celebrating 40 years since its first organ transplant, marking the milestone with 185 transplant recipients at a Phillies game.

"When they asked me if I wanted to throw the first ball at Temple transplant night, I said, 'give me the ball,'" Tirney said.

He practiced, getting ready for his big moment on the field. Celebrating transplant history and his favorite sport.

"It's going to be an amazing experience for me. I'm really looking forward to it. I've just got to get myself out to that mound and make that pitch, and I want to throw a strike," Tirney said.

Tirney had a big cheering section with the other Temple transplant patients celebrating with the Phillies.

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