A NORTH Devon teenager is set to return home this week after a life-saving lung transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Katie Gammon, 15, has battled cystic fibrosis since she was a little girl and spent much of the last year in and out of hospital battling infections.
And after her lungs’ ability to function deteriorated to below 20 per cent she was told her only hope of surviving was to undergo a lung transplant.
With Katie, from Barnstaple, needing oxygen 24 hours a day and relying on a wheelchair to get around, she spent 14 months on the transplant list, waiting for a suitable donor.
Then, just two weeks before Katie’s 15th birthday, her family finally received the telephone call they had been praying for.
Within hours Katie found herself at Great Ormond Street, where she underwent a seven hour operation.
After having surgery early in August Katie spent the rest of the month recovering and is due to return to North Devon tomorrow.
Her sister Louise, 20, said she couldn’t wait for Katie, who was nominated for the Journal’s Community Awards as a child of courage, to come home.
“She’s doing brilliantly,” she said.
“It’s going to be amazing to have her home. I’ve missed her like mad.
“I’ve only been to visit her in hospital once, for three days around her birthday.”
She said she’d noticed a big change in her sister.
“She’s so different,” she said. “Her lung function is up to 50 per cent and before it was only 16.
“Even her voice has changed. It’s been amazing to see.”
And Katie herself is also excited to be heading home.
She has spent the past three weeks communicating with her friends via her blog and Facebook and on Friday wrote about her experiences in Great Ormond Street.
“I’m so, so, so happy I’ve finally had my new lungs,” she wrote.
“All I think about at the moment is my donor and their family. I’m so thankful and now I can’t wait until I can get home and do everything I’ve dreamed of.
“I can finally go out with my friends and enjoy myself and breathe easy.
“I’m going to live my life to the full now.”