Jan. 28 - A Broadway musician who underwent two lung transplant surgeries is breathing life into his recovery with harmonica therapy. Larry Rawdon's condition has improved to the point where he is now teaching fellow transplant patients how to exercise their lungs with music. Ben Gruber reports.
The saying goes that 'music soothes the soul', but for Larry Rawdon it has done much more He says it probably saved his life. Rawdon spent most of his musical career as a professional cellist, working in orchestras on Broadway for hit musicals like CATS. But in 2002 everything changed. He was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a deadly lung disease with no cure. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LARRY RAWDON, LUNG TRANSPLANT PATIENT AND MUSICIAN, SAYING: "The nature of this disease for most of us is that you go along for quite a while and then it's like falling off a cliff." Dr. Cesar Keller, of the Mayo Clinic says at that point, Larry Rawdon, like most IPF patients, needed a lung transplant. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CESAR KELLER, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, LUNG TRANSPLANT PROGRAM, MAYO CLINIC, SAYING: "They have been living with a terminal lung condition and the lungs have been deteriorating to the point that they cannot survive without a transplant. But in that process not just the lung per say is altered. The respiratory muscles get affected, the diaphragm muscles get affected, if the disease has been long enough the entire muscle apparatus of the patient gets affected." And that's where the harmonica comes in. After two transplants, Larry Rawdon now has new lung and with the help of his instrument, is making a remarkable recovery. He and his doctor say it's the ideal workout for transplant recipients and he's sharing the news with fellow patients. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LARRY RAWDON, LUNG TRANSPLANT PATIENT AND MUSICIAN, SAYING: "I stumbled on this thing called high speed chugging which is making the harmonica sound like a locomotive and it takes zero musical talent and it really uses the diaphragm and I thought this is something I can get my peers to do." Rawdon has already completed two courses at Mayo with plans for many more. He says listening to his transplant peers play, is music to his ears.