Learning to Breathe: Cherishing New Life After a Lung Transplant


"Breathe, Selwa! Breathe."

I gasp for air as I tell myself again.


But my breath does not come easy. I fight the tears that begin to well up in my eyes as I pretend not to struggle in front of my children. We had just walked from the parking lot into the grocery store, a long walk when you have 23% lung function.

As I use the cart to hold my weight while I'm grasping for air, both my children are already sharing their demands of what they want in the store. I respond with a nod and a fake smile as I fight to catch my breath.


As my body calms, I slowly recover. My mind races with the realization that everything has become so hard. Everything is a fight.

Sure everything has always been a fight. Nothing has ever come easy, but I always told myself that there were no limitations; only a harder fight.

But now, I was losing the fight and limits were being set by my enemy, a beast that I was born with, it's only priority was to slowly drain the life out of my body and especially my lungs. I was born with cystic fibrosis. A genetic disorder that attacks every part of the body and demands death. Always trying to keep me from living my life.


So I fought hard. Making sure I lived the life I deserved.

The two babies walking with me were gifts given by faith. Doctors told me no but my faith said yes. Driven by this faith, I beat all the odds I was facing. But I knew this fight needed help. It was time.

After many prayers asking for guidance, my husband and I decided it was time to be put on the lung transplant list. A decision that saved my life.


Fast forward one year, my breath runs deep and my heart is full. I can be a mother and wife again without struggle and grief. My eyes smile as I easily run into the grocery store laughing with my children as they shake off the rain.

I sometime ask myself if I am dreaming. My life made beautiful by a selfless family's heart. I will forever remember that my breath came with a price. My breath given to me by a loving family that selflessly said yes in a time of heartbreak.

With every breath I take, I give them gratitude and love. With every breath I take, I will never forget my donor. I have been given a second chance at life. I have been given back my breath.

Breathe deep and smile my friends for it is a blessing.

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