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Co Fermanagh double lung transplant woman has to 'learn how to live my life again'

The Enniskillen woman left hospital in Newcastle at the end of February

A CO Fermanagh woman who is the only person in Ireland and Britain believed to suffer from a rare genetic lung condition has returned home for the first time following a double lung transplant.

Karen Lyons from Enniskillen underwent the life-saving operation in January after a donor was found.

The 30-year-old suffers from pulmonary surfactant metabolism dysfunction type two, a condition which means her lungs were not lubricated enough to allow oxygen to pass through properly.

She was admitted to the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen last November as her condition worsened and later transferred to Freemans Hospital in Newcastle in England.

Following a tense wait, a donor was found and Ms Lyons underwent a double lung transplant in January.

Since then, she has gone from strength to strength and was allowed to return home for the first time in more than three months.

"It was very emotional seeing my parents for the first time when we got home," she said.

"I had not seen them since I was moved to Newcastle and we didn't know if I was going to survive as I had then been moved to the urgent national transplant list and the reality was my days were numbered.

"There were a lot of happy tears and hugging."

Ms Lyons said her doctors are delighted with her recovery following her transplant.

"My lung function and X-rays are great and the transplant team are delighted with how well I’m doing and how quick my recovery has been," she said.

"I had a little bit of acute rejection, which I was treated for two weeks ago with high IV steroids and all is looking great still.

"I have a long way to go and they say it can take at least a year for your body to feel right.

"I have to slowly build myself up and strengthen my muscles and lungs in order to keep them healthy and stop rejection."

But the Enniskillen woman said while medically she is improving, the "emotional side of being home has been a lot harder than anticipated".

"I get flashbacks and memories of when I was so sick and the reality of just how sick I was has started to sink in a bit more," she said.

"It is and will be rollercoaster for the rest of my life. It’s been such a life changing event.

"My body has went through such a brutal operation and now I have to learn how to live my life again with all the anti-rejection medications and side effects."

But she said after accepting the "gift" from her "angel donor", she "can’t wait to see where these beautiful lungs take me".

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