Local Musician Suffering from Cystic Fibrosis in Search of a New Pair of Lungs

Local News
Local Musician Awaits Double Lung Transplant

A local musician is in search of a new pair of lungs.

Opy Schwefel was on Local 5 Live this morning performing with one of his bands, Turtlehead, prior to a six-band tribute concert in his honor.

Schwefel was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis as a child but says that the disease has worsened over the past year and a half.

“I used to be the singer of a band,” Schwefel said. “It doesn’t work anymore, I can’t breathe.”

His condition has declined so much, Schwefel says he has not been able to work for the past five years and has been awaiting a lung transplant since last June.

After two false alarms, that saw Schwefel make it to the operating table before doctors determined the new lungs in question would not be suitable, he is hoping the third time is the charm.

But the new lungs will mean a long recovery process for Schwefel and his family.

“When I get transplanted, like the first couple weeks, my wife, or a caregiver, which is going to be my wife, she’ll have to take off of work,” he said. “The first year after transplant is pretty hectic.”

Even though Schwefel can no longer sing, the local music community is stepping up to help him out.

“He’s been a big fixture in the local music scene for the last 25 years,” Tony McNamara said, “so we decided to do a tribute concert.”

The tribute concert will feature six bands that Opy has been a part of in the past. The event will take place Saturday at the Spectrum Roller Rink in Fond du Lac from 5:15 p.m. through 10:00 p.m.

Admission will be free.

Schwefel says he is humbled by the effort.

“This whole thing has just blown me away,” he said. “Like, actually how many people have been there for me and that so many people think highly of me.”

The money raised through the event will help Schwefel and his family after the transplant.

“The worse it gets, you lose a lot of life,” he said. “[I’d like to] just sit back and relax and be glad that that part is all over, just go to the next step then.”

For more information on Schwefel’s story and how you can help, click here.

Watch Turtlehead’s performance on Local 5 Live below:

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