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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Grandpa gets new lung, plans to teach grandson to play ball

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

(Photo)
"I want Papaw to teach me how to pitch this summer," said nine-year-old Kodie Girton. The Eastside third grader has heard many stories about how his grandfather, Delbert Cox, had always coached his sons when they played baseball in the Clay Youth League. Cox had hoped to coach his grandson, too, when Kodie got old enough.

Six years ago, however, Cox's life changed completely. He developed breathing problems. Diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Cox's health deteriorated quickly. He was forced to quit work. And he was unable to participate in any of Kodie's sports activities.

Several years ago Cox's doctor advised him to look into qualifying for a lung transplant. Cox didn't consider his condition that critical at the time so declined to heed the doctor's advice. He later regretted that decision.

His condition worsened. Any kind of activity became a major obstacle. He was on oxygen continuously. Walking only 20 feet, Cox would get exhausted, gasping for air as his color turned an alarming gray.

Cox finally got on that waiting list about a year ago.

"We knew he was living on borrowed time," Cox's wife, Debra, said. "We thought he was going to die on Father's Day. He had a spell and couldn't breathe. It was the worst I'd ever seen him. But he pulled through. And a lung became available in October."

Cox had a lung transplant Oct. 5, at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. He came home Oct. 15. The thin but happy man sat in a chair in his living room watching his grandchildren. There was no oxygen tank. His skin was pink and respirations were easy.

"I ride a stationary bike a mile every day," Cox said. "Sometimes twice a day. And I walk six minutes a day. I'm still sore from the surgery but, really, I feel great. I'm getting a lot stronger."

His daughter, Karen Girton, who was holding four-day-old BrayLynn smiled at her father. "We've got to get him strong enough so he can push a baby stroller this summer."

When asked about his future plans Cox said," I'm going to do everything I can with my grandkids." Then looking at his older grandson added, "And I'm going to try to teach Kodie how to pitch next summer. I might even consider coaching him in a year or so."



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