AFTER 13 weeks in hospital and a double lung transplant, Karen Lyons has arrived back home in Fermanagh looking forward to the future after life-changing surgery.
In November, Karen was critically ill and was admitted to SWAH where she spent seven weeks before being transferred to hospital in Newcastle. Five weeks ago she underwent a life saving double lung transplant and incredibly returned home to Enniskillen on Friday.
Speaking to the Herald, Karen (30) said, “It feels great to get home to my family and furbabies. It was a very emotional reunion after not seeing them since I left SWAH in December and not knowing if I was going to survive or not. It’s very strange being back home where nothing has changed but with me, my whole life has changed. I’m back with new lungs and it’s very hard to get my head around that still.”
Karen will now continue to fly to Newcastle every couple of weeks for check ups, as the young woman continues to make steady progress, and the team in Newcastle are really happy with how she is recovering.
“I did have to get my one month biopsy done before I left Newcastle which unfortunately showed a bit of acute rejection which meant I had to be admitted into Freeman’s Hospital in isolation for a few days on high IV steroids to blast the rejection.”
She explains that “the word rejection is a scary one that every transplant patient dreads but early on post transplant it is very common amongst us. Acute rejection is treatable which will allow me to go on and continue to improve my lung function and recovery.”
The high doses of medication have wiped Karen’s immune system and is impacting her eyesight and causing tremors but these side effects should wear off as her doses decreases.
Amazingly, Karen is now breathing without the help of Oxygen and says she forgets that she doesn’t need it to breathe anymore.
“I still look for the nasal cannula at night – I wake up thinking it’s fallen off. I can walk about now without my ‘ball and chain’ or go outside without worrying if I’m bringing enough with me without running out. I’m still learning to breathe ‘normally’ again and retrain my mind and body from the bad habits from being breathless for so many years.”
During her time in hospital, Karen regularly updated her blog ‘My Lung Story’ and has been inundated with messages of support.
“The support, love and messages from the local community, country and even the world has been absolutely incredible! It’s so heart-warming knowing all these beautiful people have been following my journey and cheering me on in my recovery. My family and I have never felt anything like it and it has been one of the main reasons for getting us through this all. I can’t thank everyone enough, I’m truly so grateful. The people of Fermanagh are such a special kind and I’m so proud to call it home. I can’t wait to get out and about and see everyone and thank them personally.”
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