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An 11th hour gift of life

By Marion

Words cannot describe how I felt when I regained consciousness after my double lung transplant surgery in 2009. As I looked at the nurse I realised: I had been saved with the 'gift of life.'

I had deteriorated very quickly from the affects of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and had been put on the transplant waiting list. My father and brother died of the disease and I was diagnosed in 2006. Lung transplantation was the only thing that would save my life.

Already a patient in a hospital intensive care unit when word came through of a possible transplant, I was transferred to The Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane. Had the lungs not been a match I would have been placed in palliative care with pain relief. It was just a miracle that the donor lungs were a match.

In the early days of recovery I believed that I must have been touched by angels, but I knew who the angels were: my donor and his or her family and the transplant unit at the Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane, headed by Dr Peter Hopkins.

Aged 62 at the time of transplant, I was discharged from hospital after just 11 days to start on the road to recovery.

Along with my husband Barry, daughters Kristen and Jacqueline and son-in-law Eric, whose love and support has sustained me, I am a very grateful human being.

Life is precious and beautiful. As I go about my new life with vigour and excitement, I feel extremely special that I walk with the lungs that belonged to another human being.

It's my fervent wish that my donor's family can take some comfort in the fact that the donation of their loved one's organs saved the lives of up to five people that day.

The most special thing about my new life, apart from being with my family and watching my little grandchildren grow up, is being able to breathe freely.

Thank you to my wonderful donor.