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Kill Devil Hills mother who received third double lung transplant finally returns home

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Posted at 3:39 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 18:44:32-04

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. - We have been following the journey of Tricia Lawrenson for months.

In late April, the 37-year-old Kill Devil Hills woman received her third new set of lungs in a risky and rare surgery performed at Duke Hospital.

"I couldn't wish for anything better. Thank you so much for your prayers," Tricia shared in a Facebook page two days after her third double lung transplant.

"I remember waking up, feeling so good like I had a minor procedure and being able to breathe on my own," she told News 3 Monday.

Tricia was born with cystic fibrosis and was the 12th American - and the sixth at Duke - to receive the rare and risky surgery. The average wait time for a set of lungs at Duke is 17 days. Tricia waited 53.

"I lost a lot of muscle mass after surgery. Rehab that first month was difficult," she said. "Breathing was hard because my diaphragm was paralyzed."

But we have good news to report. Tricia returned home to Kill Devil Hills on Thursday with Nathan, her husband and caregiver, and their two children. She is off oxygen and is healing at home but has had several setbacks, one being acute rejection. Doctors do not have a timetable on how long the third set of lungs will last.

"With every transplant, leaving the OBX, I have always thought I may not come back," she said. "But when we came home, I walked to the beach and saw a porpoise jump out of the water, it was a gift and this is a dream come true."

Now, the family of four is being extra careful, only seeing a handful of people as they keep a close bubble due to the coronavirus.

"This is our third time doing this, so we know what to do because Trish has been living for 12 years in immunosuppressed condition," said Nathan Lawrenson. "We are much more careful than most people."

Unlike the last two transplants, Nathan wasn't able to go inside for the surgery to be by her side due to COVID-19 restrictions.

With a third chance at life, she says she is grateful for every waking breath and the donors who gave her another chance at life.

"I have had 12 beautiful years on this earth because of my three donors. [I'm] so grateful for that; it's a blessing," said Tricia.

Tricia and her family say they are forever grateful for the healthcare staff at Duke and the unwavering support from her OBX community.

To learn more about becoming an organ donor, click here.