Carroll County High School welcomes back principal after double lung transplant

HILLSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) -- In principal Chuck Thompson's office, things are starting to return to normal.

"I'm getting there, and it'll take some time to get back," he said.

Back from a double lung transplant Thompson needed due to a congenital heart defect.

The surgery was a success. But soon after, complications arose.

"I developed an infection in my leg and chest that are deadly infections," Thompson said.

The situation was dire.

"The surgeon actually told me that, if he was a betting man, that the infection would have killed me," Thompson said.

Doctors had no choice but to amputate Thompson's right leg below the knee. It was then the recovery process could begin.

"I was working to get home at first, to see my family and kids," he said, "and the second thing was I wanted to get back to work so I could be with my second family here at Carroll County High School."

That second wish came true last week when Thompson returned to school after a year-long absence.

"I came back through the doors to the office here, and we have all these banners signed by the students welcoming me back," he said.

Thompson said he could never thank the community enough for its support.

"I've learned that people are either givers or takers, and we have a whole lot of givers," he said.

After a year filled with so much suffering, he knows he's more than just lucky.

"Better than lucky," Thompson said. "I've won the lottery."