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'Miracle': woman, 40, who was not supposed to live past 7 receives third set of lungs

Aby Rivas
Nov 21, 2018
11:51 P.M.

Selwa Mitchel, 40, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a child. She wasn’t expected to live past 7, and today, she has a beautiful family and has gone through her second lung transplant.

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Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that causes the affected to experience a build-up of thick, sticky mucus in their lungs, digestive system, and other organs. The disease reduces lung function and increases the risk of infection.

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Selwa was diagnosed at age 3, and doctors didn’t give her parents high expectations of life for her. However, she never gave up, going through hours of treatment in high school while her classmates were running around, and learning to slow down in college when her body told her to do it.

FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE

She fought to have a normal life, and she did it. She married her property developer husband, Scott, and gave birth to two beautiful children Isabella and Charles Scott. Selwa also started practicing yoga as a way to take off her mind from her disease, and she’s almost an expert by now.

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“I've defied the odds throughout my life. When you're told you aren't going to have a life, you really fight for it,” she told Daily Mail.

In 2015, Selwa’s lungs started to lose their battle. Their function dropped to 22 percent and, barely able to breathe, she asked to be on the organ transplant list to receive new lungs. By June 2016, she was getting a new pair of lungs, courtesy of an 18-year-old girl who had died in a car accident.

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“I struggle with the fact that she died, but it means so much that she decided to donate her organs,” she said of the girl, named Kendall Spinks.

Selwa’s lungs function went from 22 to 96 percent. She was able to run, exercise and play with her kids like never before, but the happiness only lasted a few months before her body started to reject the new organs.

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"I've defied the odds throughout my life. When you're told you aren't going to have a life, you really fight for it."

ONE MORE BATTLE

“I was completely removed from my life to the point where I would be laying on my death bed thinking of all the last times," Selwa admitted to WFAA. "Like, that was my last time to take her to school. That was my last time to help them brush their teeth. So, I was just, in my mind, living through all my last times."

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With the encouragement of her family and friends, Selwa was determined to get back onto the transplant list, but doctors were not that convinced. Performing a second lung transplant was risky, and Selwa’s condition kept getting worse. She suffered a heart attack, a stroke, liver failure, lung failure, and her kidneys shut down.

But neither Selwa nor her husband gave up. She spent months in the hospital, surviving with the support and care of her friends, who made everything in their power to keep her laughing against all the odds, as she revealed on an emotional essay for the CFF blog.

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At some point, her body became so weak that she would slip in and out of consciousness, hearing her friends and family whispering and hoping for a donor to come through.

“I realized it was a miracle that my body had lasted this long without failing, and my body had been sustained using their spirits to nourish my breath, my movements, and my fight,” she wrote. “Now, all we could do was pray for a miracle.”

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THE THIRD SET OF LUNGS

Less than a year later, she had her second lung transplant. Now she’s running around with her third set of lungs, knowing the value of each deep breath she takes. Even though she still has to take 50 pills every day, Selwa is grateful to the donor’s family and her friends for keeping her alive.

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“Every day, my donor's lungs breathe life and strength back into my body while my friends' presence brings life back into my soul,” she concluded her blog entry.

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