Egan: New lungs in April, kayaking in August — a young woman can breathe again

Kathleen Hanna said she ‘could be excited about the future’ again after receiving a double lung transplant. JULIE OLIVER / POSTMEDIA

1983, there was just one successful lung transplant in Ontario, but the first in the world. In 2015, there were 128 —and little clamour — as though novelty finally exhaled.

So, for every rock-star recipient like Hélène Campbell (street naming, Ellen DeGeneres fave, Bieber shout-out) there are many other miracles quietly played out, lives regained.

There is, for instance, Kathleen Hanna, 22, of Kinburn, a hamlet west of Ottawa, who shyly tells an inspiring story.

Born with cystic fibrosis, she fell so ill early this year that she was airlifted to Toronto, in anticipation of a double-lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital, one of the leading such centres in the world.

Down to 98 pounds, lung function at 17 per cent, forced to use a wheelchair, she was literally fighting to stay alive. She signed off on the transplant in February and the 11-hour operation was performed on April 6 — the exact day Campbell received her lungs in 2012. Continue reading
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