CLEVELAND -- Simple acts like blowing out the candles on a birthday cake are easy to take for granted.
But on Tim Cox’s 59th birthday in November, this simple gesture of love was a difficult, yet rewarding, accomplishment.
"I just count today as one of the many special blessings," Cox told WJW. "Each day is a new day but they mean more to me now."
Cox, a pastor from Charlotte, N.C., was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that causes progressive scarring of the lungs. There is no cure.
Cox’s condition was fast-moving. Not even added oxygen helping his struggle to breathe.
"I depended on it more and more. Soon I went to 24/7 that I needed it, at two liters a minute," he said.
Soon after, doctors determined Cox would need a lung transplant. He came to the Cleveland Clinic and was put on the waiting list for lungs. In May, he got the call.
Dr. Usman Ahmad, a thoracic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, performed the lung transplant.
"He met all the criteria and it's a very stringent criteria people have to meet; they have to be otherwise healthy. All their other organs have to be in good shape and it really has to be a single organ failure, so we can replace that organ and get their body back on track," Ahmad said.
But 10 days after the transplant, Cox suffered a stroke. His wife, Diane, worried with plans to walk his daughter Melissa down the aisle for her wedding later this month.
"I play that in my mind so much and he has a special relationship with both of our daughters. He really is a great dad," Diane Cox said.
Now, more than a year of recovery in Cleveland, the family’s dream will be fulfilled. Cox will return to North Carolina for his daughter’s wedding next week.
The pastor is crediting his strong faith and will to survive on his miraculous recovery.
"It's fitting that you're interviewing me now during Passion Week because someone gave their life for me, much like Jesus Christ," Cox said.
Cox's long road to recovery is far from over.
After his daughter's wedding on April 28, he and his wife will return to Cleveland to continue his treatments. The goal is to return home and to his congregation for good in May.
April is Donate Life Month.