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She was told she wouldn't live to see her 30th birthday. But an organ donation saved her life.

Ellice Mol received a lung transplant in her 20s.

By ELLICE MOL

A little over a year ago I was severely underweight, my lung function was at 19 per cent, and I could barely walk a few steps without stopping to rest.

I was born with a genetic illness called Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening disease that affects the lungs. A lung transplant is often the last resort to prolong the life of a person with CF.

By 2012 I had quit my full-time job as a journalist and producer, and life as I knew it became a lot harder. I was 27 and had been in a relationship with my boyfriend Rhys just shy of a year, when doctors told me I would not see my thirtieth birthday without a bi-lateral lung transplant. I’d been waiting for that day my whole life.

Rhys was incredibly supportive and without a second thought, he essentially became my carer. But it was a tough time for us – we were young, and felt like we still had so much of our lives ahead of us.

As my health declined sharply, we tried to remain upbeat and focus on all of the amazing things we’d do after my transplant.

In 2012, I was put on the transplant waiting list and just seven weeks later I received the call I had desperately been waiting for – a suitable pair of lungs had become available, donated by a stranger whose own life had been cut short.

An ambulance rushed me to the hospital and before I knew it I was in theatre. There wasn’t even time to see my family to kiss them goodbye.

After seven hours in surgery, I opened my eyes and saw the joy on Rhys and mum’s face as they stood by my side. For the first time I breathed with ease. My healthy new lungs were perfect.

I was excited about the possibilities the future held, and found a new lease on life, but the months that followed the transplant weren’t easy.

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Recovery was slow. I was very swollen and in pain for many months after the surgery.

Eventually, I was able to start exercising and each day my strength and fitness improved. I grew out of my old clothes, gaining a very welcome 13 kilograms! Once the worst of the side effects of the medication had subsided, I could focus on everything I wanted to achieve.

Ellice and her partner, Rhys.

Since receiving my new lungs, I’ve travelled to Vietnam, graduated with my Masters degree, been appointed to an exciting new full-time role, and in honour of my donor, I ran in Sydney’s famous City2Surf a year after my transplant.

It’s difficult to express how grateful I am to my donor, and their family who generously thought of others in the midst of their own personal tragedy. Their selfless gift has given me my life back.

During DonateLife Week, I’m encouraging families to discuss their organ and tissue donation decisions with their families.

The opportunity to donate organs is rare – only around one per cent of people will die in hospital in the specific circumstances where organ donation is possible.

In Australia, family members must always confirm the donation decision of their deceased loved one before donation for transplantation can go ahead.

That’s why it’s so important to discuss your organ and tissue donation decision with your family, and to ask and know their decisions, too – it’s a conversation that could one day save lives.

Ellice is a 29-year-old journalist and content producer. She recently ran Sydney’s famous City2Surf to celebrate her first ‘transplanniversary’. She can be followed on Twitter at @Eleechimo.

For more information on organ donation go to donatelife.gov.au

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