'I am so lucky' - Double lung transplant warrior Orla Tinsley celebrates year since life-saving operation

Double lung transplant warrior Orla Tinsley has celebrated her first year since her life-saving operation.

'I am so lucky' - Double lung transplant warrior Orla Tinsley celebrates year since life-saving operation

By Sarah Slater

Double lung transplant warrior Orla Tinsley has celebrated her first year since her life-saving operation.

The Cystic Fibrosis campaigner took to Twitter to thank the family of her donor and members of the public for their support after she spent several days on life support at New York Presbyterian Hospital in December last year.

The 31-year-old had previously received six calls about a potential lung transplant but each time the donor lungs were deemed unsuitable. Her seventh call was successful.

“Today is technically my birthday. I am one. I went into surgery the evening of December 20th and I came out of surgery early December 21st,” she tweeted.

“My mother makes an excellent point. I got the call on the 20th, went down to surgery on the 21st and came out on the 22nd. My surgery was the night of the winter solstice. I will be holding my donor and her family extra close this week.

“This time last year was very different. I was three days into the most extreme form of life support possible listening to my neighbour in great pain. Today I am snuggled up with the great Christmas bake off. I am so lucky. My doctors and my donor; my heroes.”

Cystic Fibrosis is a lifelong genetically inherited disease that mainly affects the lungs and the digestive system.

The Kildare-born journalist, has been at the forefront of the fight to improve awareness and services has written extensively on the subject.

Her campaign work was instrumental in the opening of a dedicated CF unit in St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin.

Hundreds of people tweeted in response with one saying, “Dear Orla, wish you a wonderful Christmas with friends and family. You are a true hero and such an inspiration!”

Another added: “I remember being happy yet nervous for you. Turned out to be my best Xmas present & I don't even know you (but feel I do), I was so relieved esp once post op update posted. The merriest of Christmases to you & yours this year & thinking also of donors family.

Ms Tinsley featured in a documentary on RTÉ last September which followed her journey and experiences of living everyday life with the condition.

Having left Ireland to study at Columbia University, she turned 30 in New York City, and, at almost the same time, was put on the list for a double lung transplant.

The documentary Orla Tinsley: Warrior was filmed over 14 months and documented her failing health, the excruciating six false alarms, and the lucky seventh transplant call which arrived at the 11th hour, just in time to give her a new chance at life.

She shared the moments of elation and devastation to raise awareness about organ donation, transplants, and Cystic Fibrosis.

Following the documentary, hundreds of people took to social media to praise her resilience.

Some 650 families going through similar experiences right now awaiting organ donation according to the Irish Kidney Association.

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