Breathtaking. It’s a word in the English language that automatically seems to evoke emotion in all of us. Whether we are describing a view from the top of a mountain range, the water of a crystal blue ocean that seems to stretch out for miles, or even our first kiss, the word breathtaking seems to take on more meaning than most others.
At the age of nineteen, after battling cystic fibrosis since birth and seeing my lungs deteriorate beyond repair, I came home from college and my life was put on hold for ten months until I received a double lung transplant on September 25, 2005.
The road to transplant, though, was by no means easy. I was on oxygen therapy 24/7 and was running on very low reserves. I also experienced two false alarms before my actual surgery, planned my own funeral with close friends and family, and honestly wondered if I would even live to see my earthly miracle occur.
I went from being an out-going, vibrant college freshman to a young woman who literally stayed in her room for the better half of a ten-month period.
I used to be the one doing everything for everyone, but during that time, I needed my family and friends more than I ever could have imagined.
Once I received my lungs, I never looked back. It has been over a year since my surgery, and I am so humbled that not only can I breathe but breathe well – better than I have my entire life. I went from having less than 20% FEV1 (the amount of air one can breathe out in one second) to sitting around 99% at this time.
I am once again a full-time student, majoring in Biblical Studies through Moody Bible Institute.I am also thrilled to be able to take my story to the masses through Breathtaking, a book I have written which will come out in late Spring 2007.
Breathtaking is a gut-wrenching account of my journey to transplant, written from a compilation of e-mails I wrote from March-Christmas of 2005. My desire was – and still is – to give my life back to others, as I have been given the ultimate gift of life here on earth through my transplant, a life that is abundant and free.
I also have become an advocate for organ donation awareness, speaking to nurses and students about the importance of making the crucial decision to become and organ donor and also respect the ones involved if the difficult process does need to be put into effect.
I can never say thank you enough to my donor family for giving the gift of life. I pray that I am able to one day meet them in person and thank them face-to-face for their decision, which has in effect allowed me to embrace life once again and ready to face the unknown.