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Nicole- Double Lung Recipient

Nicole pictureWhen you look at me, you might see a typical teenager who likes to swim, play kickball. And spend time with my friends. But there’s more. I’m the youngest double lung recipient in Kentucky and at the University of Kentucky Hospital.

My name is Nicole, and I was born with Cystic Fibrosis. It’s an awful disease that makes it hard to be a kid. You can’t breathe, so you can’t run and play with the other kids.

My lungs got worse and worse until I turned ten. I went to all kinds of doctors. Walking, for me, was like running a race for other people. I was always out of breath, so I had to use a wheelchair to get around.

I knew the day would come when I needed new lungs, so it didn’t come as a surprise. Still, it was hard waiting. I grew tired of the wheelchair. I was on oxygen and had a feeding tube. Everywhere I went, I felt awkward because I was different.

It was just a regular day. We went to the store, ate dinner, and were just settling down to watch a movie as a family when the phone rang. We thought it would be my aunt.

My mom answered, and she smiled really big when they told her to get me to UK in an hour because they had my lungs. She said, “Okay,” and we got ready to go. I was shocked and started crying. I was so emotional, and my older brother, Eric, tried to cheer me up because he thought I was sad.

The doctor told me different things could happen with the surgery. Everything could go fine, and I’d be able to breathe. Everything could go fine, but the surgery might not help me at all. Or I might not wake up. It scared me, but not enough to stop me. I wanted to breathe! I wanted out of that chair!

I’ve had some problems and complications with the transplant, mostly with medication, but everything worked out fine. Now, I can walk without gasping for breath, and I don’t feel different from all the other kids all the time, but I still see lots of doctors.

Before my surgery, my doctor told me that I wouldn’t live to see my twelfth birthday, so I appreciate little things of life, like hanging out in the kitchen with my cousin posing for pictures. I get to be a real kid. I also have a couple of brand new cousins. Without my lung transplant, I’d have never met them. I’m fourteen now, by the way.

There are three things I’m looking forward to right now. The first is pure fun. My doctors are paying for me to go to Dollywood this summer. I can’t wait for that.

The second is more serious. I don’t know much about my donor. She was eleven and about my height when she died in a house-fire. It didn’t hurt her lungs, though. I want to write a letter to her parents to thank them for making the choice that saved my life.

Third thing has to wait for a while, because I’m only fourteen. But I know, when I turn sixteen and get my driver’s license, I can’t wait to say, “Yes,” when they ask if I’ll be an organ donor.