J&P's John Parham returns to business

Last summer word went out that John Parham, owner of Iowa's J&P Cycles, was in pretty bad shape and had undergone a lung transplant.

John is one of the nice guys in the industry, always ready to listen to whatever it is you’ve got to say, and usually more than willing to lend a helping hand if he’s able. On top of that J&P Cycles is one of those ubiquitous organizations that seem to be everywhere and if it’s a major event so is John. He’s one of those people who, when they’re not there, are truly missed.

So it was gratifying to see him at the recent vintage motorcycle auction in Las Vegas and to follow up on what’s happened over the past few months.

 John’s six-month journey has included surgery for diverticulitis, treatment for pneumonia, and a lung transplant. John was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in 2007. Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease for which there is no cure, and whose cause is uncertain. The disease causes scarring of the lung tissue, slowly destroying the victim’s ability to breathe, eventually suffocating the victim and ending in death.

When diagnosed, John, a non-smoker, had already lost roughly 55 percent lung capacity, but was getting along. Three years later, in March 2010,John was diagnosed with diverticulitis and underwent surgery to correct the problem. While recovering in the hospital, John contracted pneumonia, damaging his already stressed lungs and after 33 days in intensive care, and another 19 days in recovery, much of it hooked to a ventilator breathing almost pure oxygen and being fed through a tube, John had to relearn how to swallow, drink water and walk.

In early June john visited the Cleveland Clinic,  to determine his viability as a lung transplant recipient. After six days of probing and testing it was determined that he was a good candidate, and his name put on a list.

The Clinic is one of the nation’s leading transplant centers, performing 160 transplants a year. He returned the following month for additional evaluation. In the intervening time John’s situation had deteriorated but, his priority for a lung was moved ahead.

On August 1 John got a call that they had a suitable lung and were ready to perform the transplant. That day the clinic sent a jet to Anamosa to pick him up. When he arrived in Cleveland, he was put into a police car and taken to the clinic. It was the first time in 25-years that John was going to miss going to Sturgis.

The operation began at five AM, five-hours later John had a new lung and was in the recovery room, breathing 60-80% pure oxygen. Within three-days, he was breathing on his own, though as he admits, “a little gun-shy” about that. The new lung was bigger than his old ones and was at 68% capacity.

On Labor Day John had a rejection setback and was back in the hospital for three days as doctors reassessed and changed his anti-rejection meds.

John looks good, he’s lost a lot of weight and has to follow a regimen of 36 pills a day and monitor the results daily. He still occasionally gets cramps and shakes. He’s also begun a pulmonary rehab program at his local hospital and goes five times per week, working out on a treadmill, stationary bike and elliptical machine.

As a result of John’s ordeal, he’s working with Donate Life, an organization that encourages the donation of organs, eyes and tissue.

John says, “I feel blessed to be able to smell the cut grass, hear the birds and sit on the porch, I want to give something back,” and this is his way of doing it.

John explained that though many of us have indicated on our driver’s licenses that we are organ donors, in many cases the police end up with the license before the EMTs respond, and never know of your wish to donate, consequently many organs are never harvested. The need for donated organs is vast, and only about six out of ten needy recipients receive the organ that will extend their life.

It’s good to see John back and back in the game. He won the bid on a very nice 1957 Aermacchi Chimera, that will soon take its place at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa.