Rev. Dwight Crist Northington of Calvary Baptist Church on Bridge Avenue is featured in today’s Asbury Park Press, where he talks about the double lung transplant that saved his life earlier this year.
From the article:
A year ago, the simple act of breathing was a tremendous effort for the Rev. Dwight Crist Northington of Red Bank.
Both of his lungs were failing. The 55-year-old senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Red Bank had lost weight and was constantly exhausted.
A series of illnesses that began when he was in his 20s had taken a deadly toll on his body.
“Things were really getting bad for me,” he says. “I was dying, and I knew I was dying.”
The story reports that at age 27, Northington was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an illness that attacks vital organs and strikes African-Americans, like Northington, more frequently and more severely than it does Caucasians. In his case, it went after his lungs, and over the years, the functioning of his lungs declined as he also developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with bronchitis and pulmonary hypertension.
By last year, Northington couldn’t breathe without the aid of oxygen from a portable tank. His condition worsened to the point where he needed a transplant.
“April 26, at 1:45 a.m., I received a phone call that suitable lungs were available. I had to be in New York in two hours. I was taken by ambulance. The Red Bank police helped me with an escort.”
Surgery at New York-Presbyterian/University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell in Manhattan began at 8 a.m. and lasted six hours, he says. After the surgery, he was kept in an induced coma for four days.
Throughout it all, he says, he received tremendous support from his wife, Rebecca, and daughters Bianca, 23, and Alisha, 20, and from the people at his church. Two pastors Aaron Gibson, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Long Branch, and Terrence Porter, senior pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Red Bank, “were very helpful to my family,” he says.
“When I woke up, I was still on oxygen. I was on oxygen for three days. I had chest tubes in, all types of IVs. I was in so much pain,” he says.
When he was about to be removed from oxygen, he was afraid. Then, he took his first breath on his own.
“It was just the greatest feeling in the world. It’s amazing how we take breathing for granted,” says Northington, who was hospitalized for almost six weeks, a bit longer than expected, because he developed a blood clot in his lung.
On the first Sunday in September, Northington preached for the first time since his surgery, but he can’t do that often yet. He’s recuperating slowly, lifting light weights and walking on a treadmill.
“My wife has been an extremely important part of the rehabilitation process. I am very grateful to her. I can’t say enough about her. The officers and members of my church have done a wonderful job keeping the church going. They make my recuperation better, knowing that,” he says.