GEMMA Humphreys is alive today because of organ donors.
The Castle Hill woman, 23, has cystic fibrosis. She had a liver transplant in 2004 and a double lung transplant in February.
‘‘I call them [donors] my heroes,’’ the floristry student said.
‘‘They gave me my life back and now I can be a normal 23-year-old.’’
Miss Humphreys was waiting for new lungs for 15 months and said they felt like the ‘‘longest months’’ of her life.
‘‘I was gasping for air and my weight dropped to 35 kilos,’’ she said. ‘‘My surgeon told me that my old lungs collapsed in her hands.
‘‘She said I would have only lived another month.’’
The condition affects several organs in the body — especially the lungs and pancreas — by clogging them with thick, sticky mucus.
Those living with it have to do daily physio therapy, use a nebuliser and take vitamins, food supplements and enzyme tablets to help digest food.
After getting her life ‘‘back on track’’, Miss Humphreys is trying to raise awareness of the condition.
She raised $2500 with a group of friends for Great Strides, the fund-raising walk for Cystic Fibrosis NSW. But her goal is to encourage people to become organ donors.
‘‘NSW has a very low organ donation rate because it’s up to the the family to make that decision after the person dies,’’ she said. ‘‘I know it’s a touchy subject, but people should try to make their wishes to donate known.’’
■ Have you had a discussion about organ donation with your family? How did you broach it?