A Fylde woman is celebrating a birthday milestone she feared she may not live to see.
Laurie Pope, of Dobson Road, St Annes, who was born with cystic fibrosis, had been given only months to live when she was told a donor had been found to fulfil her dream of a double lung transplant.
Laurie, who turned 26 on Monday, underwent the surgery at Wythenshawe Hospital – becoming the hospital’s 1,000th transplant patient – and is now determined to make up for lost time.
The former Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College student said: “I did not have a life before. I could not breathe or walk without being linked up to oxygen.
“I had to sleep linked up to a machine to help me breathe. Every couple of weeks I was back in hospital for treatment for an infection.
“I can’t thank the surgeons enough for what they have done for me. One of the best things is to wake up in the morning knowing that I’m breathing with my own lungs and without an oxygen mask on my face.”
Professor Nizar Yonan, director of Wythenshawe’s transplant unit, said: “I and my colleagues at Wythenshawe Hospital’s Transplant Unit would like to wish Laurie a very happy birthday and we are very proud of what we have been able to do to give this young woman the means to live an active life.
“It was difficult surgery and it took many hours to perform.
“It is incredibly refreshing to see Laurie recovering and looking so well.”
Last year, Laurie spent her 25th birthday in pyjamas, recovering from shingles.
She was so weak and thin she and her parents Lorraine and David Pope, and boyfriend Jay Hopkins, feared that she would not see her next birthday.
Laurie had been on the transplant list for two and a half years and had had 14 stand-by alarms about an organ, before she got the call she had been waiting for in April.
She had been cared for by Wythenshawe Hospital’s cystic fibrosis unit on Pearce Ward since the age of 18.
“I’m feeling great,’ says Laurie. “I still get a bit tired as I recover from surgery, but I can’t believe all the things I can do now.
“Jay and I went to the cinema last week for the first time for at least four years. Now we can start doing things together like any other couple – simple things like going out to meet friends in the pub.”
She hopes to build up her strength to the point that she will soon be able to start training at her local gym.
She wants to become fit enough to take dancing lessons as her dream is to become a professional dancer.
Laurie’s mum Lorraine said: “I can’t thank the hospital enough for giving my daughter a life. I just watch her walking up and down stairs and I think to myself ‘Wow, she can do it!’”