You never know when you’re going to need expert medical care. Quentin Hinrichs learned this the hard way straight after his 19th birthday party.

WAITING for the 2:17pm tram from West Footscray Station with his son Ari, Quentin Hinrichs’ dramatic medical history feels half a world away. It’s half his lifetime ago, too.

The married dad-of-three, heading to Etihad Stadium to watch his beloved Western Bulldogs, knows he’s lucky.

At age 38, he’s free to enjoy everyday life with his family.

But at 19, his life was thrown into turmoil when he was forced to head straight from his birthday party to Footscray Hospital.

Young and fit, Quentin was caught off-guard when he began struggling to breathe in the taxi on his way home. As a strange pain intensified in his chest, he instructed the driver to go to the nearest emergency department.

“They (ED staff) probably thought I was a bit drunk or something at first, but it turned out that my lung had collapsed,” says Quentin, who was an amateur boxer at the time.

The official diagnosis was spontaneous pneumothorax, which is the occurrence of air in the lining of the lungs – but without any known cause.

A week-long stay in hospital marked the beginning of a very tough year. Quentin’s lungs collapsed three more times: “I spent a fair bit of time going in and out of hospital.”

Ultimately, Quentin underwent a surgical procedure – video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) pleurodesis – that adhered the lung lining to the lung, preventing a repeat of the condition.

Despite the stress, Quentin, who is now an auctioneer in Melbourne’s inner west, looks back on his time at Footscray Hospital positively.

“The nurses and doctors were bloody unbelievable,” he says.

“I actually took them a gift, they were so good.”

But he still reflects on the shock of how quickly life can change.

“I did find it hard to cope with at times, constantly thinking that my lungs were collapsing. I didn’t exactly treat my body like a temple, but I was fit and healthy and I was an amateur boxer. You just never know (what might happen).”

The Greatest Need Project is an online story-sharing website with two major goals – to help patients facing significant hardship and disadvantage, and to facilitate research, at Western Health.

As a patient, Quentin is sharing his story in bid to help those at Western Health who need it most.

By making a donation on Quentin’s behalf – and sharing his story on social media – you are making a difference too. Thank you.

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