This is the moment a woman took her first deep breaths in more than a decade — after she had a double lung transplant.
Paula Massie, 40, was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2009 which left her so breathless she could barely walk through her home.
Her heart grew to FOUR times the average size due to the strain her blocked lungs were putting on her body, and she was finally put on the waiting list for a new set of lungs.
And after a year, she got a call at 2am to say it was time to operate, and hours later she was given the organs from an anonymous donor.
A video taken in hospital six weeks after the transplant shows Paula getting to her feet and taking her first unassisted breaths, after being discharged from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
And despite the major operation, she said it felt amazing.
A year on, she’s home and healthier than she has been in 20 years, and is finally able to do all the things she couldn’t before – such as enjoying long walks and quad biking.
Paula, from Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, said: “I only have my donor to thank for changing my life completely.
“I want to make the most of every second of my life in their memory.”
Paula was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension 10 years ago.
The condition causes high pressure in the blood vessels connecting the heart and lungs which puts increased strain on the organs.
Symptoms include severe breathlessness, fatigue, blackouts and swelling around the ankles, arms and stomach.
Paula found out her condition was the result of a gene mutation which was discovered by a doctor three years ago.
She struggled with the condition until in 2018 she was finally put on the waiting list for a double lung transplant.
By this time, she could barely walk from one side of her house to the other, and she had her operation in early May 2019.
Paula, who prior to her condition worked as a pupil support assistant, said: “On the night of my transplant I got a call around 2am and it all happened so quickly.
“Suddenly there was an ambulance at my door and I was sitting in the hospital two hours later.
“At this point lots of checks were being done and it was only around 4pm that day I found out that it was going ahead and I was taken down to the theatre.
“I remember feeling calm as I went down to surgery as I knew that this was what I needed to have a chance at life.”
Paula received the transplant at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for six weeks after the operation.
Video footage shows Paula tentatively taking her first breaths with her new lungs as she can be seen breathing deeply and freely for the first time in years.
After being discharged from the ICU she was put into the transplant ward to continue her rehabilitation.
Paula had to build up muscle again as she had lost 20 kilos in weight throughout her horrific ordeal.
Eventually, 100 days after her transplant, she was well enough to go home and start a new chapter in her life with her husband, Malcom Massie, 47.
One year on Paula is in the best shape she has been in for two decades and is rejoicing in the little things that she took for granted before her diagnosis.
Paula, who has a 12 year old foster son called Ollie, added: “I have to take anti rejection medication for the rest of my life to prevent my body rejecting my new lungs and take several other medications too.
“It is all worth it as I am able to go out for a walk for enjoyment now and am able to do those things I’ve desperately wanted to do but couldn’t.”
“Just recently I went quad biking which was amazing.”
“Being in the extremely vulnerable group for Covid has meant that I have had to shield for the last few months, and have only recently been able to start going out.”
“It’s frustrating as I’ve just got my life back after years of being ill but I know the importance of protecting my precious lungs.”
She is speaking ahead of organ donation week, on September 7-13.
“My main aim is to raise awareness about the topic of transplants and donors, and help support others who are going through the same painful experience as I did,” she said.