70 year old double lung transplant recipient’s 1200km kayak for a cause
Lung Disease

70 year old double lung transplant recipient’s 1200km kayak for a cause

Media Release

70 year old double lung transplant recipient Bill Van Nierop is about to embark on a remarkable physical and mental challenge, kayaking 1200km of the Murrumbidgee River to raise funds for vital lung disease research.

The Redlands grandfather was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) – a progressive lung disease with no cause or cure – in 2015. Initially, he was told that he had only a 50% chance of surviving the next three years and a 20% chance of seeing another five.

Refusing to succumb to those odds, Bill fought to maintain as healthy a lifestyle as he possibly could to secure eligibility for a double lung transplant, which he received in 2021.
He described the journey from diagnosis to transplant and beyond as lonely and challenging.

However, since his initial diagnosis he has been on a mission to improve outcomes for those impacted by lung disease and transplantation. He has strived to do this by driving awareness of the rare condition Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and by advocating for further research into lung disease as a whole.

Bill’s upcoming kayak, titled the Long Kayak for Lungs 2, is the third time he is putting his mind and body to the test, but his first since his double lung transplant.

“Thanks to The Prince Charles Hospital and my incredible medical team there, I have been given a second chance and I’m not going to waste it. There are families across Australia who are affected by lung disease every day and I’m going to do my part to spread support and to do some good for those families,” said Bill.

The Long Kayak for Lungs 2 hopes to raise $48,000 which will support 1000 hours of IPF and transplant research via The Common Good, an initiative of The Prince Charles Hospital.

“Lung disease is very tough to live with mentally. I’ve received comments from people such as, ‘you don’t look sick enough’ or ‘you must have been a smoker’, and it had a real effect on my mental health. I hope that by stepping forward with my kayak, and raising my voice as a patient, I can help influence social change, as well as raising funds for crucial medical research.”

Approximately 1,250 people are diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis each year with countless more affected by broader lung disease.

Steve Francia, Chief Executive Officer of The Common Good, is standing behind Bill as he takes on the Long Kayak for Lungs 2, sharing support for his mission to shine a light on the battle that Australians affected by lung disease face.

“Awareness rates for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, and lung disease as a whole, is critically low in Australia and through Bill’s leadership, advocacy and fundraising, we can help drive forward research that will result in positive outcomes for those impacted,” said Francia.

“Bill’s support for the community is profound and extends far beyond financial support alone. The support and hope that Bill provides for others within the community who are battling a debilitating and incurable lung disease cannot be understated.”

Bill will begin the Long Kayak for Lungs 2 in Jugiong, New South Wales, on August 28. He’s expected to complete his journey at Balranald approximately four weeks later.

To learn more about the Long Kayak for Lungs, visit longkayakforlungs.com.au, and to donate visit tcg.org.au/support-bill.

Published: July 12, 2023

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