Double lung transplant recipient suffers setback
Helene Campbell, a double-lung transplant recipient and online organ donation crusader, is shown in a handout photo from April 18, 2012. (The Campbell Family)
Published Thursday, April 19, 2012 8:05PM EDT
Helene Campbell, the Ottawa woman who underwent a double lung transplant in Toronto earlier this month, has suffered a setback in her recovery.
Campbell was taken off her ventilator over the weekend, which allowed her to breathe on her own for the first time since surgery.
"Unfortunately, breathing became very difficult for her on Sunday evening," her mother Manon wrote on Campbell's blog, ALungStory.ca, Wednesday evening.
So doctors decided to re-insert Campbell's breathing tube and her breathing is once again being assisted by the ventilator.
Manon added that Campbell is also being treated for a lung infection, and is receiving steroids to combat the early signs of organ rejection.
As well, doctors have decided to perform a tracheostomy to create a hole in Campbell's throat, from which a breathing tube will be inserted and connected to the ventilator. That decision was made to ward off the potential complications of having a breathing tube for a long period of time, Manon wrote. The procedure will also help Campbell with deep breathing, coughing and suctioning.
Wednesday was also Helene's 21st birthday and she celebrated the day in good spirits, her mother reported.
"We witnessed some of her first dance moves, bobbing her head and shoulders to the tune of Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox today," she wrote.
"Despite the challenges, Helene still manages to make us and the nursing staff laugh."
Campbell had the lung transplant on April 7 after being diagnosed last September with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a type of progressive lung disease that came on suddenly.
She caught the attention of Canadians when she sent a video to the Ellen DeGeneres TV show asking the host to help her spread her message about the need for organ donation.
Ellen put her on her show in February through an internet call using Skype. Ellen said she was moved by Campbell's story and invited her to return to the show after the lung transplant.
Campbell's Twitter account has since garnered more than 13,000 followers and people from around the world have been following updates on her blog and cheering her on.