The Argentine Township assistant fire chief who needed a lung transplant to survive has had the surgery.
Frank Hatton, 56, received new lungs Thursday, June 13 after waiting approximately a month. The assistant chief, who’s been with the department since 1984, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in August 2018. In May, he learned his condition had progressed faster than expected, and that he needed a lung transplant to survive.
Hatton released this statement through Fire Chief Matt Lafferty: “On June 13, 2019, I received a very precious gift, a second chance on life. I am so grateful for the donor family’s gift from their loved one. Please take a moment and pray for healing comfort for their family. I have been very fortunate to receive my gift in such a short time as my health was rapidly declining.
“My heartfelt thanks to everyone for donating their time to help me in so many ways. And for the generous support for my future success. I’m humbled by your kindness. I have a long road ahead but I’m looking forward to the journey.”
Prior to the surgery, Hatton was using two oxygen concentrators. Now, he doesn’t need to carry oxygen around at all.
“Your body is so used to breathing one way and then after the surgery, you have, I guess the best way to put it, to learn how to breathe normal again,” he said.
However, his medical bills are adding up. According to the gofundme started by township firefighters, the bills are at “an amount higher than you can imagine. It’s higher than any of us are able to help alone or even as an association. On top of that, the medication that will be needed for the rest of his life will equal (the) cost of a new car every year.”
As of June 24, the gofundme has raised about $15,000 for a $100,000 goal.
To fundraise, the fire department is hosting a spaghetti dinner Saturday, June 29 at the Linden Free Methodist Church. Starting at 4 p.m., Attendees can get a dinner plate for $10, a raffle ticket for $1 and a whole pie for $10.
The department is also hosting a golf outing Saturday, Aug. 3 at Fenton Farms Golf Club. The cost is $80 per person/$320 per team. A gold sponsor is $500, a silver sponsor is $300 and a bronze sponsor is $200. The event includes 18 holes, lunch, dinner, a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction.
All proceeds will go to Hatton’s medical fund.
“It’s gonna’ be a long road but we have this — I cannot say enough about my terrific support group that I have. I am truly a humble man,” Hatton said.
Hatton has two children, Andrea and Jeremy, and two grandchildren, Jaxon and Keri. Jeremy followed his father’s footsteps by joining the Argentine Township Fire Department as well, according to the gofundme page.
“Frank is strong-willed and isn’t the type to ask for help. After spending the last 35 years being the one providing help to his community, he’s having a hard time being on the other side of things. What better way to thank him for all the sacrifices he’s made helping others than to make what sacrifices we can to support him and his family,” according to the gofundme.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease that occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred. This thickened, stiff tissue makes it more difficult for your lungs to work properly. As pulmonary fibrosis worsens, you become progressively more short of breath.