West Shore Barber Shop owner Mike Gravelle gives co-owner Sean Legras a trim. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)

West Shore Barber Shop owner Mike Gravelle gives co-owner Sean Legras a trim. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)

Double lung transplant gives West Shore man second chance

Co-owner of West Shore Barber Shop grateful for every minute of the 16 years transplant has provided

Rick Stiebel

News Staff

The fact a family he will never get to know took a few minutes to fill in a form has let Mike Gravelle breathe a little easier for the past 16 years.

Gravelle, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just 18 months old, was rapidly closing in on his last breath before he received a double lung transplant in 2003. “When I got on the operating table I was down to 118 pounds and my lung function was at 18 per cent,” said the six-foot-one co-owner of the West Shore Barber Shop on Goldstream Avenue.

According to Canadian law, recipients of organs are not allowed to contact the donor’s family, and the donor’s family are not able to know the identity of who they assisted, Gravelle explained. “I was able to send them an anonymous thank you card to express how grateful I am for the gift of life.”

READ ALSO: Transplant caregiver starts website for financial, mental health support

When he was diagnosed, the average life expectancy for someone with CF was about 30 years. Gravelle’s lung function was spiralling downward rapidly by the time he turned 23.

There was only one double lung transplant performed in Vancouver that year, and only a couple the year before, so Gravelle had no option but to go to Toronto for his surgery.

“Things have definitely improved and that’s great to see,” noted the 46-year-old Colwood resident. “There’s been more than 50 transplants a year in Vancouver the last couple of years. I’m able to lead a normal active life now. I’m very positive I’ve got a lot of years left.”

There isn’t a lot of data available on people 16 years post surgery, however, he noted. Although he must strictly adhere to a regimen of three prescriptions twice a day for the rest of his life, Gravelle says that’s a “small price to pay,” and he’s focused on the years ahead with his wife, Crystal Daigneault, his partner for the past 12 years.

READ ALSO: Simon Keith undergoes second heart transplant

Maintaining a positive outlook wasn’t always easy, he admitted, especially in the last two years before the surgery. “I always hoped for the best, but I had some dark times as well. I’m still absolutely overwhelmed by the support from the people in my hometown of Lake Cowichan and on the West Shore. They raised enough money to cover my accommodations and living expenses during the 11 months I had to live in Toronto, and I’ll always be so grateful for that.”

What’s extremely important to Gravelle at this juncture of his life is getting out the message of the importance of helping others through organ transplants.

“I hope anyone hearing my story signs up to be an organ donor,” he stressed. “I’m living proof of the difference a second chance at life can make. It’s an amazing way to turn a tragedy into a miracle for someone else.”

To sign up as a donor or for more information, check out transplant.bc.ca.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The realignment of Highway 14 between Connie and Glinz Lake roads in Sooke will take more than a year to complete. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
The realignment of Highway 14 between Connie and Glinz Lake roads in Sooke will take more than a year to complete. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Patience requested from drivers as work begins on realignment of Highway 14 in Sooke

Construction between Connie and Glinz Lake roads expected to take 1½ years

A spokesperson for the Peninsula Country Market is upset that their third and final Winter Market won’t happen this Saturday in Central Saanich’s Centennial Park following moves by the municipality. (Facebook/Peninsula Country Market)
Central Saanich postpones weekend Winter Market, organizers upset

Lorea Tomsin said municipality’s move runs counter to provincial direction

As cyclists and pedestrians pass by at Humboldt and Government streets, a garden of blooming black-eyed Susans brightens up the northwest corner of the Fairmont Empress Hotel property on a partially sunny November afternoon. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Keep your umbrella handy for the next while around Greater Victoria

November has lived up to its reputation as one of the rainiest months of the year

Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming moves to the role of transportation minister in the NDP’s new cabinet. (B.C. government file photo)
Greater Victoria MLAs claim key roles in new cabinet

Transportation, Indigenous relations, children and family development ministries headed by locals

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Light Up parade a no-go, but Ladysmith’s streets are still all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Most Read