A Blackpool woman is looking forward to her best Christmas ever after a rare double lung transplant saved her life.
Rosie Neath, 27, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, was being kept alive by a machine after her own lungs failed leaving her unable to breathe unaided.
The former pupil of Collegiate School (now Aspire Academy) was deteriorating fast before doctors identified suitable donor organs.
Following more than eight hours of surgery at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM), she spent a week in intensive care but 20 days later could breathe again on her own.
Rosie, who lives near Poulton, had fallen seriously ill soon after a family holiday to Disneyland Paris last December.
Now she has jetted off to celebrate her remarkable recovery with an emotional return to the Magic Kingdom this Christmas.
The former NHS worker was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was 10 months old but always did her best to live a normal life.
That all changed at Christmas last year when her condition worsened and she was warned she would die without a double lung transplant.
Rosie said: “The staff at University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) where I had my transplant were amazing.
“It is because of them that I am alive today and am able to visit Disneyland this Christmas.
“It was a bit of a shock hearing I needed such a major operation. I tried not to think about it too much.”
Because of the severity of her situation Rosie was made a priority for a transplant and only had to wait 17 days for a pair of lungs to be identified as a match, although some patients can wait up to two years.
She added: “When my health deteriorated my parents were away on holiday and I was rushed for the operation from my house in Blackpool to UHSM. It was scary but after I had the operation I just felt really lucky and now I feel like I have a new lease of life.”
Rosie had her transplant in spring this year - one of only around 30 similar operations which are performed by the NHS each year.
Consultant cardiac surgeon Mr Rajamiyer Venkateswaran, who carried out the life-saving operation, said: “Rosie was in a very stable state, but her condition deteriorated quite fast and we had to escalate her case to that of a priority transplant patient very rapidly or we risked potentially losing her.
“She was in a very serious condition and had to go on a non-invasive ventilation machine to enable her to breathe as her lungs had almost completely failed her.
“Because Rosie was in such a serious condition, we escalated her to the priority patient list – which is reserved for people who really urgently need a transplant.
“This system enabled us to assess every pair of lungs that came in through the donor programme across greater Manchester to see if they were suitable for her.
“Luckily, we found a match for Rosie in a relatively short time and were able to perform the transplant operation.”
He added: “She is making a very good recovery and we’re really pleased that she is going to be able to enjoy a holiday to Disneyland with her family again.
“I know how much that means to her. I wish her bon voyage and good health this Christmas and for the years to come.”
Rosie will be accompanied on her trip to Disneyland Paris by her cousin and cousin’s husband along with her four-year-old goddaughter Fiorella, who she says is “even more Disney-mad than me.”
Rosie added: “I didn’t think I would ever be able to go back to Disneyland Paris, where my family and I had such a great time last year, so I’m really excited to be going just before Christmas. As soon as I was told I could fly, I booked to go and I can’t wait to have such a much better experience now.”
Health chiefs are appealing for more people to register as organ donors.
Mr Venkateswaran added: ““A wider bank of potential donors would greatly increase the chance of a person who needs a transplant finding a matching donor in a shorter period of time.”
Go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.