A desperately ill mum who underwent a double organ transplant is celebrating the best Christmas present ever - two new lungs!
Natalie Kerr, 31, feared she would not see her children grow up when she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension four years ago.
But this year she has been able to enjoy the ‘best Christmas ever’ with Brandon, nine and Isabelle four.
Natalie, of Highfield Road North, Adlington, said: “Last year, when anyone asked me what I wanted for Christmas I would say two new lungs.
“This year, I’ve got it. I feel so full of energy and full of life. Last year I didn’t even want to think about this Christmas. I didn’t think I would be here.
“To be here with my family and my children is just so special.
“Every single day I get this feeling inside where I just think ‘I’m alive’. Every day makes a huge difference.”
Natalie, who worked as a nurse at the Royal Bolton Hospital, was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension while in labour with Isabelle.
The condition causes high pressure in the arteries of her lungs, and eventually leads to heart failure.
Natalie was warned she would only live for three more years.
But she continued to defy the odds, undergoing revolutionary stem cell treatment in the US after her family helped raise £40,000 to fund the trip.
However, after initially being given a new lease of life, her condition rapidly deteriorated and her only hope was the double-lung transplant.
She was put on the waiting list in October and faced a nervous wait for the same size organ donor with the same blood and tissue type to be able to undergo treatment.
A match was eventually found in February and she underwent an eight-hour operation at Manchester’s Wythenshaw Hospital.
Despite setbacks in July when she was diagnosed with pneumonia, she now says she is feeling fit and healthy, and is eager to take advantage of every minute with her two youngsters.
This year she cooked Christmas dinner for the first time for 13 family members, after making the promise she would if she got her new lungs.
She said: “I don’t want to be too cocky and jinx things, but I feel really good.
“I’m getting my life back, the kids are both busy in school, and they are loving having their mum back.”
Natalie has continued to urge people to join the Organ Donor Register, so other people can enjoy the same new lease of life.
She said: “I hear Christmas songs and cry. I’m so happy to be here, but also sad for the lady that died and gave me my lungs.
“People need to understand when I talk about signing up to the Organ Donor Register that it really has changed my whole life.
“If I didn’t have my lungs, my children probably wouldn’t have a mum this Christmas.
“For the last few Christmases I just did it for the kids. I was going through the motions and last year I had my bags packed in case they rang me to say they had found a match.
“This year I’ve been able to run around and play with the kids.
“Words can’t describe how grateful we are.”