A Former First Responder Receives the Gift of Life

Sam Cowan | Bilateral Lung Recipient

Sam Cowan was a member of the Suffolk, Virginia Fire Services for 35 years, starting out as a firefighter and retiring as deputy fire chief. He was also an adjunct state instructor for Virginia. When he wasn’t helping to save lives, he was a dedicated father and grandfather who loved to camp, travel, and joke around with his family and friends.

During a routine surgery, the surgeon saw something on his lungs that led to a referral to a pulmonologist. That doctor diagnosed him with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and would need a bilateral lung transplant. The disease—and Sam’s lungs—gradually worsened, and he was soon on the transplant list.

Despite his difficulty breathing, Sam and his wife Cynthia went into the transplant process like it was an adventure. They made plans for every conceivable outcome, and gave each of Sam’s children a copy of the pre-transplant instructions. The transplant was a success, and following the procedure Sam was determined to do everything that his doctors told him to in order to stay healthy, walking 5-6 days a week.

While he passed away in 2019 due to complications from cancer, the bilateral lung transplant gave Sam and his family an extra 7 years together. During this time, Sam was able to meet his three great-grandchildren who were born during that time period. Thanks to the donation of two lungs, Sam and his family were truly given the gift of life.