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Record lung transplant survivor Terry Woods treated every extra day as a gift

In 1998, at the age of 39, Terry Woods was given the gift of a successful lung transplant but a warning from doctors that fewer than half survive beyond five years.

The recent passing of the Portadown man came, remarkably, around three months short of the transplant’s 24th anniversary and four short of his 45th wedding anniversary.

His dedication to maximising every extra day proved an inspiration to many...his devotion to wife Noreen, children Jason, Audrey and Stephen, 12 grandchildren and great-granddaughter proved beyond measure.

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Terry set a record as Northern Ireland’s longest-surviving lung transplant patient - and second-longest within the United Kingdom - by embracing those years with both a fierce focus on his family’s future and remembrance of the past, forever determined to give full value to the second chance as a result of a 19-year-old motorcycling accident victim in Scotland called Stuart who chose to be an organ donor.

Portadown man Terry Woods sporting his Hanover replica kit and Transplant Games medal.

A total commitment to his rehabilitation programme was the foundation of Terry’s landmark longevity.

Terry’s death came too soon for the countless lives of family, friends and strangers he touched with his generosity, sense of humour and determination.

Support for the transplant programme was a constant, in gestures from quiet encouragement or guidance for others in similar circumstances to raising awareness as a Transplant Games medal-winner around Great Britain and Europe or raising money.

A childhood love of swimming in the River Bann would help Terry as an adult following that 1998 transplant, with trips to the swimming pool for the purposes of supporting his rehab often also used as an excuse to spend time with different generations of family.

Hours in the water with family featured on a long list of shared activities Terry enjoyed, relishing the small but treasured moments with loved ones and extending that simple joy to time with nieces and nephews - with every precious day treated as something to savour, even in difficult times when limited by illness.

Terry first developed breathing problems in 1981, leading to a collapsed lung and operation designed to essentially staple the damaged organ to his chest in a bid for greater stability.

Years of health issues followed, including periods in intensive care and one trip to England for a lung transplant aborted mid-flight, until the 1998 life-extending operation.

Terry’s funeral featured a guard of honour from Portadown True Blues Flute Band with the flag of Hanover Football Club decorating the coffin, both symbols of his loyalty and long-standing service to hometown institutions celebrating a lifelong love of music and sport.

He was a devoted supporter of Hanover down the decades, home and away, with a pride in the Mid-Ulster Football League club which only increased when cheering on his sons and grandsons.

Terry’s support for the club extended to listing Hanover alongside the Northern Ireland Transplant Association for donations in his memory.

However, his greatest legacy remains the four generations of surviving family members who so cherished Terry’s warmth and love of life and proved such a constant source of strength and pride.

Special thanks from the Woods family go to Dr Convery and his Craigavon Area Hospital team, Dr Chapman, the respiratory team, Acute Medical Ward nurses, Freeman Hospital Newcastle, Dr Dark, Professor Corris and the Northern Ireland Transplant Association team.

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