LUMBERTON — For most people, exercise is a choice they make to improve their health and, perhaps, to reduce their weight.
For Herbert Oxendine, Ray Shaw and Ron Jones, their visits to the local gym became necessary to reclaim their health after undergoing organ transplants.
Oxendine, 61, of Shannon, underwent a double lung transplant because of lung disease at UNC Medical Center in October 2013. Shaw, 75, of Lumberton, traveled to Pittsburgh to receive a donor lung because of pulmonary fibrosis in March 2015. After two open heart surgeries and several bouts with infections, Jones, 62, also of Lumberton, received a heart transplant at UNC Medical Center in December of 2015.
As is standard care following a heart or lung transplant, each of the men’s physicians prescribed cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. Each had knowledge of the program at Southeastern Health’s Southeastern Lifestyle Fitness Center in Lumberton because they had completed it in the past as part of managing their heart and lung issues before a transplant was necessary.
James C. Jacobs, a clinical exercise specialist with Southeastern Health’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation department, believes there are several reasons why patients thrive in the rehab program.
“The patients are actually under someone’s care while they are completing our program and they get that assurance that if something goes wrong, they have qualified people around to take care of them,” Jacobs said. “Also, being in a setting with others who have serious health issues gives them a sense of not being alone.”
Cardiac and pulmonary rehab offer similar medically supervised exercise programs that span 36 sessions spread over three sessions each week. A team, including physicians, nurses, exercise professionals and dietitians, collaborate to provide the best possible care for each patient. In addition to exercise, participants are informed about a variety of topics, including dietary choices and relaxation.
“Patients’ willingness to complete our rehab program is really all in how and when it is presented,” Jacobs said. “If you just say exercise to people, they think it’s very hard, more like what they see on television. They don’t understand that it can be adjusted to their individual level. Once we explain the program, they typically embrace it and, like our transplant patients, continue with their own fitness schedule once their time in rehab has ended.”
While Shaw decided to extend his rehab program by enrolling in a longer-term program known as Health Strides, Oxendine and Jones visit the fitness center three to five times each week to continue what they started in the cardiopulmonary rehab program.
“It is all in how you cope, have faith and seek to improve your health,” Oxendine said.
Jones was affected by Oxendine’s dedication and success.
“I was inspired by how he faced his health issues and didn’t hide from them,” Jones said. “When you are dealing with an illness, you have to approach it with faith and hopefulness and work as hard as you have ever worked in your life.”
Call 910-738-5403 to learn more about Southeastern Health’s Cardiopulmonary Rehab program, which is for people who have had heart attacks, cardiac bypass surgery, coronary stents, valve replacement or repairs, heart failure, heart transplants, stable angina, COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, sarcoidosis, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, lung cancer or other conditions deemed medically necessary, such as lung transplants.
Amanda Crabtree is the public relations coordinator for Southeastern Health.