Franklin Square man receives lung transplant after 60 years of smoking

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A Franklin Square grandfather who smoked over a pack of cigarettes every day for 60 years was given a new lease on life.

Ray Wykerd’s story comes ahead of the Great American Smokeout, a day in which doctors encourage smokers to quit.

Wykerd, 72, says he started smoking when he was around 12 or 13 -- simply because everyone else did. He continued to smoke throughout his adult life and while raising his children.

“If I had known before what I know now I would never have started smoking,” says Wykerd.

The grandfather says that all changed a few years ago after a visit to the doctor when he was diagnosed with asthma and COPD, a progressive lung disease.

“My primary care doctor told me if I didn't stop smoking I would be dead in two to three years’ time,” said Wykerd.

Wykerd received his lifesaving lung transplant at NYU Winthrop Hospital in August. No more oxygen, no more inhalers.

“I'm like a new man. I know I'm 72 years old, but I don't feel it. I feel a lot younger than that now. I can breathe and have a better quality of life,” he says.

Wykerd says he's most excited about getting back out on the golf course and running around with his youngest grandson.

Dr. Sarun Thomas of NYU Winthrop Hospital says the positive effects of quitting smoking are noticeable within less than one hour: “People say within 20 minutes, their heart rate and blood pressure can go down.  Within 12 hours, your carbon monoxide levels come back to normal.  Within weeks, your circulation improves and within months your ability to clean your lungs and clear infections gets better.”


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