When The University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) performed the first “breathing lung” transplant in the United States in 2012, it was a game-changer for many people who suffer with lung disease.
Quoting Dr. Abbas Ardehali, UCLA News noted at the time that “Organs were never meant to be frozen on ice” and that lungs were particularly susceptible to damage when being used for transplant.
Ardehali explained that this was because “Lungs are very sensitive and can easily be damaged during the donation process. The cold storage method does not allow for reconditioning of the lungs before transplantation, but this promising ‘breathing lung’ technology enables us to potentially improve the function of the donor lungs before they are placed in the recipient.”
This meant new hope for people with conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis. A man with pulmonary fibrosis was actually the first human recipient of the “breathing lung” transplant in the United States.
Fast forward a few years and the entire world gets to watch as a lung transplant recipient experiences breathing with her new lungs for the first time.
Rob Ronnenberg’s fiancée, Jennifer, had cycstic fibrosis her entire life, so when she underwent her lung transplant surgery he was there, camera on hand, to capture the magical first breath moment.
People who have commented on the resulting video clip can’t help but notice the look of sheer amazement on Jennifer’s face as she realizes she is breathing in and out with new lungs.
It is similar to the reaction children and adults have the first time they see or hear — and you can’t help but also be deeply moved by it.
Wide-eyed and almost in disbelief, Jennifer continued to breathe in and out, seeming to fully experience every second of the experience.
Around her, people talk about the miracle they are witnessing and later how for more than 40 minutes she has been breathing entirely on her own.
As those commenting note, the video is magical to see and sends home a message about how every breath, every moment is ours to enjoy and not ever take for granted. For Ronnenberg, there is another message he hopes people will take from him sharing this private moment with the world.
Without organ donation, Jennifer’s miracle would not have been possible. Ronnenberg has been all over social media, adding his comments about the importance of organ donation to the various copies of his video that have been virally shared.
On one Reddit thread featuring his video, he stressed the importance of organ donation, writing, “This is my YouTube video and it’s my fiance who received the new lungs. I don’t know who posted it here, but we’re trying to get the word out about how important organ donation is and how life changing it is. Without it, she probably would not be here these four months later.”
He added his and Jennifer’s appreciation for all those who were helping to share that message.
“Thank you everyone for sharing this, there are people whose life literally depend on the generous gift of sharing your organs after you no longer have a need for them. Be a real life hero and let your family know that you will be a donor.”
He also wrote that there were other videos about Jennifer’s progress on his YouTube channel. Ronnenberg was quick to add that two months later she was “doing amazing!”
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