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Tedrow 2 years after double transplant

Published: Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 11:18 a.m. CDT

You may remember a couple of years ago when I wrote about my friend, Ray Tedrow, of Salem, who underwent a double-lung transplant at the University of Iowa Hospitals.  Ray and his sister, Shirley, had been born with cystic fibrosis, a 100-percent fatal disease of the respiratory and digestive systems. 

Shirley died of the hereditary disease in her 30s, while Ray managed to hang on into his early 40s. He was going downhill slowly, and usually had a bottle of oxygen with him.

However,  CF patients have been undergoing lung transplants which, if successful, can extend life expectancy. Ray became eligible for a double-lung transplant.  On March 9, 2011, his pager went off, and he reported to the University of Iowa Hospitals for the transplant.

Ray came through the marathon surgery like a trooper. Except for a hospitalization afterward for a punctured bowel, which was actually harder on him than the transplant, his life has been improving steadily ever since. He’s gained weight, and is stronger and healthier looking than I’ve ever known him to be.

Going on 45, he splits time between Iowa and Florida, coming back to Salem each fall for deer hunting. He bagged a nice 10-point buck this year (he hadn’t been able to deer hunt for the last six years).

Ray has a Harley Davidson motorcycle that he loves to ride, and enjoys riding it even more now that he isn’t tied to an oxygen bottle. He does light contracting work, always wearing a mask to protect his lungs from dust.

He has to be careful with diet, as do all CF patients — his meat has to be well done, and he can’t eat at buffets — or use tobacco products of any kind. He also has to stay out of the sun due to his immune system. He can’t run the risk of skin cancer.  But it’s a small price to pay for the health he’s been given, and his extended life expectancy.

Ray has met with a relative of the donor family to express his gratitude for the donor organs, and the gift of life that was given to him. It was also a chance for the relative of the family to see the good use the organs were put to (note: Ray stresses the importance of informing your family of your wishes if you have checked the organ-donor box on your driver’s license).

He highly recommends the movie, “The 5th Quarter” available on DVD or Netflix.

Ray’s attitude is great. He’s active in a motorcycle ministry that raises funds for such causes as muscular dystrophy, and provides meals for the homeless. Ray just wants to give back to a society that’s been so giving to him.

If need be, a second transplant is possible in the future, if the CF should attack the transplanted lungs. But Ray doesn’t really think about it much, he’s just appreciative of his health now and enjoys life to the fullest, one day at a time.

More on the River Rock Cafe: Recently I wrote about Butch Bittle’s River Rock Cafe in Oakland Mills, Iowa winning the prestigious “Best Tenderloin in the State” award by the Iowa Pork Producers. It seems the accolades never stop. The Iowa Board of Tourism has also bestowed upon the River Rock Cafe the award of “Restaurant of High Integrity.”

But Butch still isn’t done.  He’s been invited by the Iowa Pork Producers annual Invitational Pork Cook Off, to cook in the Pork Dream Challenge. In Des Moines, Butch is planning to prepare a Swedish Pork Loin with Lingonberry Sauce, which takes eight hours to prepare. My mouth waters.

Butch wants to bring this Iowa State Championship of cooking home. It will be to the benefit of southeast Iowans’ palates (and anyone else who happens along). Good luck, Butch, and good cookin.’

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