Man leaves to get lung transplant, thieves burglarize his home

Man leaves to get lung transplant, thieves burglarize his home »Play Video
Steve Mathisen is recovering from a lung transplant and still wears a mask to avoid dust.

PORTLAND, Ore. - A man fighting for his life got a second chance, but just as he readied himself to settle into his renewed life, he received a terrible call.

Steve Mathisen had a friend looking after his house in a Southeast Portland neighborhood while he went to get life-changing surgery in Seattle. Days before he came home, he received the devastating news that thieves took advantage of a home that means so much him.

"I had probably six weeks to live. I was sitting on death's doorstep," Mathisen said.

He still wears a mask to avoid dust, but he's come a long way. After years of fighting, he finally got the call to head to Seattle for a lung transplant. Two months and a successful surgery later, Mathisen was ready to go home to start over again. But Tuesday he and his wife got another call.

"A friend came by to clean the house, get things ready for us, and discovered the house was a mess," he said. "The house looked like a tornado hit it."

Drawers were dumped upside down on their bed and their belongings were tossed on the floor.

Police say the thief broke in through a back window and left with money, jewelry and even TVs.

"I was in tears. I didn't know whether to scream or cry," Mathisen said.

He was so looking forward to coming home. Because last year, volunteers with Rebuilding Together Portland helped redo his home to make life easier. But he said this was just a setback, because now he has his whole life ahead of him.

"I have a second chance on life, which means more to me than anything in this house except for my wife," Mathisen said.

Mathisen said the thieves also took his spare car keys which was something else that was unnerving.

He did file a police report and they were out Wednesday checking for fingerprints.

To donate to Mathisen or any transplant person, you can go to To donate specifically to Mathisen, you'll need his name.