Hawaiian music legend Cyril Pahinui is getting ready to leave the hospital after undergoing surgery for a collapsed lung.
The slack-key guitarist was in good spirits Thursday, though his road to recovery has been an emotional one for the entire family.
Pahinui is still in a wheelchair and his voice is weak, but at a press conference from Queen’s Medical Center, he says he’s ready to celebrate his birthday next week.
He’s in good spirits, considering he just had lung surgery a month ago.
“What did it feel like to have that fluid in your lungs?” KHON2 asked.
“It’s a hard time breathing. I really was shocked, but I could feel it. I’ll tell you, it’s the worst thing that ever happened to me, kind of scary,” Pahinui replied. “But I trusted the doctors.”
Pahinui is breathing through oxygen tubes, but he has already picked up an ukulele.
He has been surrounded by his children and grandchildren during the entire process, and several of his musical friends have also visited him in the hospital.
His youngest daughter, Andrea, says her dad is a fighter.
“He was ready to go and just this outpouring of prayers and all these people calling him, it totally changed him. There is life to live now, and he is a different person than how he was when he first came in,” said Andrea Pahinui.
Last November, Pahinui started having respiratory problems and doctors say fluid buildup was likely started from bronchitis or pneumonia several years ago.
Doctors removed scar tissue from his lungs.
“If you could imagine, the lung is a balloon, and it should inflate and deflate with every breath, and so there was sort of a lining of junk around the balloon, restricting it from inflating fully,” said cardiologist Dr. Joana Magno.
Pahinui told KHON2 he’s incredibly thankful for all the well-wishes and love he has received from all over the world. “What a gift,” he said.
“Has that helped you in the recovery process?” KHON2 asked.
“I’m pretty sure — strong enough for me to keep on going,” he replied.
Next week, the longtime musician will be 66 years old. He’s headed to a rehab hospital, where he will build up strength and endurance.
He will be celebrating his birthday, his daughter’s birthday and his late father’s birthday on April 23 for the 9th Annual Gabby Pahinui Waimanalo Kanikapila.