ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — Paul Swanson from Waterford is a husband, a father, and an avid traveler, but all of that was put at risk in 2020.
Swanson told me he was snorkeling when "I was struggling to be able to get back on the boat. I got back on the boat and then I was heaving and thinking, 'Something is wrong here.'"
After multiple tests, the now 71-year-old was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
He explained, "I couldn’t walk to the bathroom without being on a pretty high level of oxygen."
Swanson was put on a lung transplant list and, while he waited, he was told he'd need to attend a 10-week program at Beaumont Pulmonary Rehabilitation program in Royal Oak.
While there he met and worked with Beverly Maurer.
Maurer told me, "When they’re referred to us, a lot of patients come in and don’t have any hope, and we give them the tools they need to fight back."
Three days a week Swanson drove 40 minutes and as Maurer said, "put in the work."
In fact, when Swanson's 10 weeks were up he kept putting in the work, 3 days a week until the miraculous started to happen.
By September his 8-minute walks turned into 30 and he was taken off the lung transplant list.
"I met with the lung transplant team and they said, 'Your numbers are down, we can’t figure it out but this doesn’t happen too often where you go off the list like this,'" said Swanson.
Maurer shared, "Paul's pretty rare."
The first thing Swanson said he did when he learned he was off the list was travel again, this time to California to see his daughter and grandkids.
He's working on a bucket list now and on it is delivering this message to you, "Keep moving, no matter what."
"It’s hard to find motivation," said Swanson. "It’s hard, but hopefully I can inspire other folks. 'If he can do it, I can do it.'"
Swanson said he will continue his rehabilitation at Beaumont indefinitely.