AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A young mother is taking deep breaths with a new set of lungs after receiving a lifesaving transplant at the University of Colorado Hospital.

Lisa Messina from Arizona was taken off oxygen after just two weeks, and now she’s learning to live with her donated organs.

“I have a permanent smile all the time,” Messina said.

Two weeks ago things were grim as Messina was in end stage lung disease because cystic fibrosis was taking its toll.

“There’s still no cure and the average lifespan as of today is about 37 years old,” she said.

At 34 years old, the mother of two was running out of time.

Dr. Denny Lyu is a pulmonologist.

Dr. Denny Lyu talks with CBS4's Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

Dr. Denny Lyu talks with CBS4’s Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

“It was just a matter of time before her lungs would give out,” Lyu said.

Messina’s last resort was a double lung transplant. On Feb. 24 she got word from CU Hospital.

“The caller ID had a 303 area code, so and I said, ‘Oh, this is the call,’ ” Messina’s husband said.

Messina flew to Colorado that day, and that night she got donated lungs and new life.

Lisa Messina on the plane to Colorado (credit: CBS)

Lisa Messina on the plane to Colorado (credit: CBS)

“It truly is a miracle,” she said.

She was giving “thumbs up” just 4 hours after surgery.

Lisa Messina in the hospital (credit: CBS)

Lisa Messina in the hospital (credit: CBS)

“She did fantastic,” Lyu said.

Approximately 48 hours later she was walking.

“It feels so good to just feel the fresh air,” Messina said.

Lisa Messina (credit: CBS)

Lisa Messina (credit: CBS)

“It brings me to tears, you know, it’s just amazing,” her husband said.

Lisa must spend three months in Colorado recovering. Doctors will monitor her for rejection of her new lungs. She doesn’t know her donor, but every day she gives thanks for that person and the gift of life.


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