Alberta woman looking forward to gardening again after double-lung transplant surgery

Joanne Cormier, a double-lung transplant recipient from Willingdon, Alta., says her life has already changed for the better.

It has only been a couple of weeks since her complicated, life-saving surgery, but Cormier says she is relieved that she no longer has a large bottle of oxygen attached to her 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

“I feel great — I feel 100 per cent better than I did before,”said Cormier who battled with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for four years leading up to her surgery in April 28, 2014.

COPD is an illness that slowly damages a patient’s airways — breathing tubes that carry air in and out of their lungs. The illness makes causes those airways to swell along with causing mucus to block those airways. COPD also damages tiny air sacs at the tips of those airways, which makes breathing extremely difficult.

The mother of two says her illness was caused after working as a waitress and bartender in a second-hand smoke-filled bar for more than 30 years.

Now, after her life-saving surgery, Cormier says she is grateful. She can now breathe easier.

“There are no words to describe my thankfulness (to the lung donor’s family),”said Cormier.

“What do you say to someone for that great of a gift? A thank you is just not enough.”

Cormier, who is still recovering in hospital after the surgery, says she is looking forward to playing darts again — something that she couldn’t do before the surgery — along with doing some gardening.

“I haven’t been able to do that in the past few years, so that kind of bothered me,”she said.

“I am hoping to have some kind of summer left when I get out of (the hospital).”

Since lung transplant patients have to spend long months before, during, and after their surgeries in Edmonton — including those who come from outside of Alberta’s capital city, like Cormier — the Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (TLA) offers some financial support to those patients and their caregivers.

That financial support is paid for by TLA’s generous supporters.

“I was given a $1,000 grant, and (TLA) gave me $600 to help pay for my rent in outpatient residence, and I was given $200 in food and $200 in gas so I can get back and forth,”said Cormier.

“This took a weight off my shoulders.”

To learn more about TLA’s Second Breath program, click here.

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