The marathon of the young transplant recipient and his surgeon

One says he is almost certain to hold the 42 km, the other is less affirmative. And the most skeptical is not the one we think. Alexandre Allain, a lung transplant recipient, shows his confidence. When his 51-year-old surgeon, Antoine Mugniot, rather athletic but lacking in physical exercise, explains that he “Will go as far as he can”. The two will set off together for the Paris Marathon on October 17, World Organ Donation Day.

“Several years after the transplant, we found ourselves, Alexandre and I, says the doctor, a specialist in heart lung transplants at the Thorax Institute of the Nantes University Hospital. I had a marathon project in the back of my head for a long time and when I understood that he was embarking on the adventure of the Paris marathon, I decided to go too. “

We were at the beginning of September. Too late therefore, with regard to the “rule” of three outings per week for three months, in principle essential to overcome the 42 km. “I only did two outings a week for a month and a half, we’ll see, the important thing is to be together”, continues Antoine Mugniot.

“I also run for my donor”

His running companion, he has been preparing for months, but starting from much further in terms of sport. “At the beginning of January, I tried to run, I lasted exactly 13 minutes, I didn’t even think of measuring the distance, it was so ridiculous”, tells the young man, suffering from cystic fibrosis since his childhood. And who had a respiratory capacity of 6% before Dr. Mugniot’s transplant in 2017.

“I took a coach, I trained by alternating short, long, fast, slow, easy, difficult outings, he relates. In fact, it is the method of all those who want to get into the marathon, so my coach followed the usual protocols, he just watched me a little more when he saw that I was struggling. “

Like everyone ? Not quite. Alexandre, born in 1995 in the Sarthe, understands very young that the disease will condemn him to a slow death. Unless you are transplanted before it is too late, that is to say, according to him “To receive and carry the lungs of someone whose life and dreams have stopped”. Since 2017, he has been living for two. “For me of course but also for him, for his family, who don’t know me and whom I don’t know (the donation is anonymous), Sunday when it gets tough, he will take over and we will both cross the line ”.

The pulmonologists tried to slow it down, without success

No doubt they will also feel the momentum of the hundreds of people waiting for a transplant which is often delayed and sometimes never arrives. Like the thousands of people who have followed Alexander’s adventures for years. Because the young transplant recipient is not his first challenge. Before the operation, he had traveled Europe in Renault 6 with friends to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis. After the transplant, he embarked on a crossing of the Atlantic in a crewed sailboat.

“In the marathon, I will have no one to help me, there will be no more car or boat to carry me, I can only count on the strength of my muscles and my lungs, it is a no more, he emphasizes. I do it because I love sport, but also to show that everyone, sick or not, can always dream and go beyond their own limits. I did not have a transplant to stay on my couch, this marathon is an ode to life. “

Another community will closely follow the course of the duettists. That of the pulmonologists who took over from the surgical team after the transplant, initially skeptical about his plans for a sporting adventure. “After the transplant, I learned that my pulmonologist colleagues had advised against the boat crossing, they realized they were wrong, rememberdoctor Mugniot. Alexandre helps medicine to push back the limits of knowledge, it is one more reason for me to accompany it, at the end or not ”.

By keeping a reasonable pace, around 10 km / h, which would place his finish time around 4:15, Alexandre is convinced that he will cross the line. And already sees further. “I am destined for a career as an agent or coach for high-level athletes, he adds. Getting ready to run the marathon with a transplant or training for the Olympics is a bit the same thing. “

This year 2021 will have already been marked for him by another long course, the story of his history. “This second marathon in front of the computer was almost even harder, I had to scroll through my life and come back to a lot of horrible memories that I had pretended to forget”.


A race against disease

Born in 1995, Alexandre Allain took up writing to tell his story, shared with the 6,000 patients with cystic fibrosis in France. In this book, he does not hide anything from the difficult moments he lived – the pain, the incomprehension of the professors or the doctors, the relapses – but he also chooses to greet the people, much more numerous, who held out to him. hand. Although some recent and experimental treatments are giving hope, the only reliable alternative to progressive suffocation is a lung transplant, which usually works well.

A breath of hope, Hugo Doc editions, 270 pages, € 18.95.


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