Lung Transplant Recipient Finds Comfort and Strength in Recovery at the YMCA

My Y Story: Robert Heyer

Robert Heyer, My Y StoryROBERT HEYER:

You may know Bob Heyer as a regular lap swimmer at the Nashua Y. Or you may know Bob Heyer as the official photographer for the town of Hollis. Many of Robert Heyer’s family and friends know him as a healthy, very active sportsman. Much of that changed in April of 2012 when, in his words, “a chronic cough took me down in three years.”  His pulmonologist diagnosed him with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a type of lung disease that results in scarring (fibrosis) of the lung. Everyday tasks like going to the store were difficult. To continue to breathe, he required ten liters of oxygen. The severity of his condition worsened and warranted a lung transplant and Bob was put on the transplant list after 3.5 years of receiving his lung disease diagnosis.

In 2016, Bob had a successful lung transplant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. After his surgery, he slowly regained his strength and he knew getting back to a regular workout regimen would be the key to returning to a healthy life. He had been an avid biker, swimmer, and golfer. He visited the Nashua Y and he and his wife Joann joined in 2018. He took up swimming again six months after his operation with the goal of keeping his lungs as healthy as possible. Bob swims laps several days a week and walks the Y’s indoor track with Joann. Bob and Joann enjoy the Y because it’s convenient for them and the staff and members are friendly. Bob workouts in his home gym to round out his wellness routine.

Robert HeyerAlmost five years later, Bob’s lungs are doing well – so well, in fact that a nurse at one of his post-op appointments asked him what he had been doing to get such staggering numbers on his charts. His answer: swimming. This spring he was looking forward to competing in the 2020 Transplant Games of America, which was scheduled for July in New Jersey at the Meadowlands. He competed in the Transplant Games in 2018 in Salt Lake City, and was eager to compete again this year, but due to the pandemic, these games were cancelled. Bob’s looking forward to July 2021 when he will compete in the Transplant Games of America at to be held in the The Meadowlands. This 71-year-old athlete will surely bring home medals, as he did in the 2018 games! Bob, we will be rooting for you and look forward to hearing about the competition!


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