Suffering from cystic fibrosis, a hereditary and incurable genetic disease, Alexander Allen achieved a number of athletic feats after a double lung transplant. An operation at 9 a.m. that brought him back to life, someone who was out of breath “just by taking a step.”
The day before the transplant in 2017, 26-year-old Sartua was on oxygen in a wheelchair. When his breathing capacity came to an end, he waited a month for a phone call telling him that a transplant was available. Others, such as the singer Gregory Lemarchal (who died at 23), were less fortunate.
“I used to cough 24 hours a day, I was always short of breath. Today I no longer have physical therapy, no infusions, and I no longer need to be tube fed at night. I only take transplant rejection medication. “My life has really changed,” he told AFP during a training session at the Brulon Leisure Center (Sart).
After running the Paris Marathon in October with his surgeon, Alexander Allen came to the end of the Ironman des Sables d’Olonne (Vendee) in early July. Arriving last “at 8:25”, he is no less proud of the result after 1.9 km of swimming, 91 km of cycling and 21 km of running for a size of just 50 kg and 1 meter 66.
“I drank a big cup of sea water and the first 20 km of cycling was very hard psychologically, but it remains my best memory. I have never experienced such an atmosphere at the finish line,” says the young man, who has been preparing for six months. at the rate of 15 hours per week.
“This is an exceptional result. We have done everything from A to Z in cycling and swimming,” explains his coach Nicolas Leroy. “At first it was difficult because he only swam a 25m breaststroke and on the bike we worked on how to pedal, elbows on the handlebars, with automatic pedals.”
– Will be “out of the ordinary” –
“It is difficult to stop Alexander in his sports projects. Everything is tense with him, he has a strong character, and he travels a lot to explain his illness, ”admits his father Jean-Luc, who runs an ambulance transport company.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease for which there is no cure. It affects about 7,000 people in France and causes the production of abnormally thick mucus that clogs the airways and digestive system.
Whether going on sporting adventures or taking on challenges with friends, such as a 2014 Renault 6 tour of 19 European countries or a 2019 Atlantic sea voyage, Alexander wants to “raise awareness” about his illness and organ. donation.
“50% of these problems should prove something to me, it keeps me alive, and 50% should convey hope. When you have +mucus, you shouldn’t put your kids in a bubble,” one of them explains. who refuses to be reduced” to his illness.
“I didn’t get a transplant to sit on the couch and watch shows on TV,” he wrote in his book Breath of Hope (ed. Hugo Dock), published in late 2021.
Alexander talks about his life, his suffering, his mother’s death from cancer when he was 13, and anecdotes, such as when he received permission from the doctors to leave the hospital for two hours, he was hospitalized to attend a law class in a wheelchair .
Asked by AFP, his surgeon Antoine Mugno recalls a boy with an “outstanding” will. “He is admirable because he went through a lot of difficulties and is a great example of the success of transplantation,” he emphasizes.
If a new drug today significantly improves the lives of patients, allowing them to opt for transplantation only as a last resort due to the risk of rejection and side effects, Mr Mugno reminds that “we in France are always short of donors.” .
A lover of reading, especially biographies and politics, Alexander has just formed a production company with his brother and is already dreaming about his next challenge.