Middleton Grange woman's transplant gives her a new breath of life

JOSEPHINE Caligiuri of Middleton Grange has been given the gift of a second chance at life.

And it's something for which she says she will be forever grateful.

About midnight on December 8 last year, Mrs Caligiuri and her family received a phone call they had been praying for.

It was St Vincent's Hospital's transplant unit calling to say a donor had been found for Mrs Caligiuri, putting an end to her wait for a life-saving double lung transplant.

Mrs Caligiuri had been on the transplant waiting list for three-months. She was told she needed the transplant after spending almost 10 years battling a lung condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

This causes the lungs to become inflamed as a result of breathing in foreign substances, dust and chemicals.

The illness took over 60 per cent of Mrs Caligiuri's lung capacity.

Over time, the condition deteriorated further.

Mrs Caligiuri had to spend two years living with an oxygen tank, which was vital for providing essential oxygen to her heart and brain.

"My life was on hold," Mrs Caligiuri said. "I lived with an oxygen tank for 24 hours a day, every day and I didn't go anywhere unless I had to."

Now, almost three months after the six-hour transplant operation, Mrs Caligiuri is making a remarkable recovery.

She is in rehabilitation and, because it was such a complex operation, she has to learn how to strengthen her muscles and basic movements like how to sit up, how to walk, and how to shower and feed herself.

Mrs Caligiuri said it was a "life-changing" experience.

"It's changed my life dramatically," she said.

"Being able to walk outside and breathe on my own again is an amazing feeling.

"I am very lucky. There was a stage when I thought I wouldn't get the transplant.

"I get to watch my kids grow up, watch my daughter get married, watch my son at sporting events and enjoy having my family around."

Bunnings Warehouse stores at Crossroads, Casula and Hoxton Park will be holding fund-raisers for DonateLife week this coming March 1-2 weekend.

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