Becky Jones, 20, became the first patient to have a lung transplant while suffering from multi-resistant Aspergillus, a common airborne fungus, and multiple fungal balls in her lungs.
But the ground-breaking operation at University Hospital of South Manchester came after an anxious 14-month wait for a donor match.
“I was nervous but also delighted I was going to get it done,” Becky said yesterday. “I didn’t have time to panic.
“I knew it was more complicated, a little bit out of the ordinary. I don’t feel special, I had no idea the extent of it.”
Aspergillus is a large number of diseases involving both infection and growth of fungus as well as allergic responses.
Lung transplant patients have never before been able to have the operation while suffering from either of these conditions.
Meanwhile her parents, Aisling, 47, and Barry, 51, spent a sleepless night praying while the surgeons worked.
Mrs Jones said: “We were told it was high-risk surgery. The operation took nearly 11 hours.
“We were terrified she might die.”
Her daughter first developed aspergillosis because she has cystic fibrosis and became allergic to the Aspergillus.
But three years ago her lung condition began to deteriorate, and the last year and a half she was on the waiting list for new lungs, if a donor match could be found in time.
The condition left her virtually house-bound, unable to walk properly, climb stairs or go out.
She was accepted for transplant only because the hospital at Wythenshawe also houses the National Aspergillosis Centre, which specialises in treating the condition.
And of course the first thing a young lady does after such a life changing experience is focus on what really matters – shopping and lunch.
“I went shopping in the Trafford Centre, it was amazing,” she said.
“I tried on clothes for the first time in ages. I was restricted to shopping online before.
“It’s just so lovely to be able to eat and enjoy food. I did not expect to be this good so quickly. I’m so happy.” But now she plans to take up her education again and hopes one day to have a career as a fashion designer after studying at National College of Art and Design in Dublin.
Becky is now planning her future, but will be forever thankful to the anonymous donor who saved her life. “It is the most selfless, humane thing to do. I can’t tell you how grateful I am.”