By Alyce Collins
AT JUST eight-years-old this brave woman was told that her endless pneumonia was down to late onset Cystic Fibrosis, leading to a DOUBLE lung transplant in her early twenties, but she is now fighting to thrive rather than just survive.
Emma Khanahmadi (25) from Gothenburg, Sweden, was fatally diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at just eight-years-old, but she had no idea this would require her to have both her lungs transplanted just years later.
At a young age, Emma was forced to face the responsibility of taking medication at certain times and to regulate her health in order to keep up with her friends.
For a decade, Emma got by steadily with her Cystic Fibrosis, facing just small consequences, but by the age of 22 she was recommended a double lung transplant by doctors, fearing for her deteriorating health.
“All of a sudden there was lots of medication, breathing treatments and being careful around infected people,” Emma said.
“When I was 22 we discussed a double lung transplant and I got a feeding tube into my stomach because I needed help getting calories in as I had trouble gaining weight. But that didn’t help at all.
“In the year before my transplant, my life just consisted of just surviving. I was in the hospital every week for physiotherapy, I had to have IV antibiotics and I was hospitalised every other month.
“I was just so relieved when the call came to say a match had been found.
“My Cystic Fibrosis caused colonised bacteria in my lungs, so it was like an ongoing pneumonia which antibiotics couldn’t help. All we could do was to minimise the bacteria with medication, but it couldn’t be fully treated.
“After years of infections and bacteria my lungs were scarred and filled with thick mucus.”
Cystic Fibrosis is a long term genetic disorder which affects the lungs, pancreas, intestines and kidneys. The disorder frequently affects a person’s breathing, growth, weight and fertility. There is currently no known cure for Cystic Fibrosis and resultant infections are treated with antibiotics to manage the illness instead.
Although the recovery process has been incredibly difficult for Emma, her life has been turned around since her surgery. She is still required to take medication regularly, but doctors are hopeful that she won’t need further surgery.
“I had a few ups and downs and at one point they thought I may need a re-transplant,” said Emma.
“My lung function has kept increasing and I’m still building my body, which feels great.
“At first, I had a rejection which was treated with a high dosage of cortisone which then triggered diabetes, but despite this I felt great.
“I had a few infections but I’m still feeling much better than before I had my transplant. I can’t even express my gratitude to my donor and their family, I got the greatest gift of all time – I got my life.
“I woke up from my surgery with a smile! After two nights I left the ICU with the feeling that I could overcome anything.
“Before my transplant I could barely walk ten steps, but now I can walk for over a mile.
“If you’re going through a journey like this, you shouldn’t face it alone. It may be hard to talk about with your loved ones, but their support is the best.
“I still take a lot of medication and face a lot of responsibility as a transplant patient, but I got a life that I can live, not just live to survive.”
Emma has shared her journey with others who may be going through a similar journey to recovery and she encourages people to donate to help those who need it.
You can find out more about Emma’s recovery at @emmathewinner