During a Florida vacation, avid golfers Teresa and Randy
Sims had an unexpected opportunity to meet with golf
legend Arnold Palmer (center). Sims shared stories with
Palmer about his life growing up with cystic fibrosis.
3:38…3:39…3:40... It was April of 1999 and Randy Sims was wide-awake, his eyes floating from the clock to the ceiling and back to the clock. Then 32, he had been waiting on the lung transplant list for 20 months, and he was now very weak, relying on oxygen all day. “I had my days and nights mixed up,” he recalls.
At 4:30 a.m., the phone rang. It was Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. They had located a pair of lungs for him. He rushed to the hospital, only to learn that the surgery would likely be cancelled. The retrieval team had not yet been sent out to get the lungs. “Part of me thought, ‘Phew, I don’t have to go through that major surgery.’ The other thought, ‘This could be my only chance to save my life.’” Around 11 a.m., however, he heard the news: the surgery was a go. Less than three hours later, he was asleep on the operating table.
“I remember waking up around 11 that night,” Sims says. With clipboard and pen in hand he wrote to his family, “Did they actually do it?” They had. In just 12 hours, his breathing tubes were removed. “It was like a whole new ballgame. I couldn’t even remember having a deep, refreshing breath like that ever. It just kept going and going. It was amazing.”
In the days that followed, Sims’ amazement at his “new life” grew. “I remember being able to walk down the hallway for the first time without panting for air.” This came from a man who could not walk from his car to his office without stopping numerous times simply to catch his breath.
Now 40, Sims owns his own corporate recruitment and staffing business, has written his own book "Living a Miracle: Turning Your Obstacles into Opportunities," and travels throughout the country as a motivational speaker. He has completed a 5K run and has participated in four US Transplant Games to date—his first competition barely a year after his transplant. “It was hard to believe that I was not only able to play the sports, but I could compete.”
In the four Transplant Games, Sims has competed in a variety of sports, including racquetball, table tennis, 3-on-3 basketball and golf. In 2006, he won a gold medal in golf and a bronze in basketball. Today, Sims lives in O’Fallon, Mo., and spends most of his time outdoors, taking walks or playing golf with his wife Teresa. “I am doing things now that I never thought I’d ever be able to do,” Sims says. “It’s nothing short of a miracle.”
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