Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Full of life, gasping for air, young Ottawa woman suddenly needs lung transplant

This story hits home for me because 12 years ago, like Hélène, I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and was fortunate enough to receive a single-lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital where Hélène will hopefully receive her 'gift of life' soon.

A Lung Story from Elisabeth Levesque-Mumford on Vimeo.
Community rallies around 20-year-old woman. Dreams of attending post secondary school put on hold by mystery illness (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis or IPF)

By Sean McKibbon Metronews.ca
People have rallied around a young Ottawa woman who needs a double lung transplant after being stricken by a mysterious illness.

“I’d been in Spain — Barcelona about two weeks,” said Hélène Campbell, 20. “I felt a little short of breath out there, but I just thought it was asthma.”

She speaks in bursts of bubbly energy, punctuated by short, quiet gasps. Her smile seems visible even on the telephone. A short documentary shot by her friend Elisabeth Levesque-Mumford has gone viral.

Campbell called her family doctor when she go back this July, got some tests done. A chest X-ray. She got a call days later telling her to go to a hospital because the X-ray showed her lungs had collapsed.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is what the doctors finally settled on as a diagnosis after repeated biopsies, blood tests and examinations. Her lungs are inflamed and have probably been that way for six years, the doctors told her. They’d seen similar cases among the elderly. Even someone in their 30s. But never in someone so young. They don’t know what caused it though so that’s why it’s “idiopathic.”

The only treatment now is a transplant, she says. To get on the list she says she has to live no more than two hours away from the Toronto hospital where the surgery would be performed. She has to wear an oxygen mask, she’s not allowed to work or even do many simple physical tasks. It’s a big change for someone who used to work 12 hour shifts at two different jobs, and is described by friends and family as “always on the go.”

Her mother, Manon Roy Campbell, a registered nurse will have to take unpaid leave from her job to care for her while she's in Toronto

“If there’s one good thing about this it’s that it’s forced me to slow down and appreciate the things that I have. It’s given me perspective,” Hélène says.

Another friend of Hélène's, Taber Bucknell set up a website — www.alungstory.ca — to keep friends and family informed and to give people who want to help financially a place to direct their donations.

"The other reason for the website is to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation," says Manon. "Without a donor Hélène won't get a second chance."

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You.

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