It's hard to tell if you didn't know her, but 25-year-old Alex Heisel of Post Falls, Idaho is really sick.
Her friends say she's known for her humor. She's witty and a bit sarcastic sometimes. Despite living her whole life with cystic fibrosis, her friends and family say she's a really positive person.
The genetic disease she was born with causes a thick buildup of mucus and fluids in her lungs and other organs, wreaking havoc on her body. She's spent countless hours in the hospital and doing different treatments throughout her life. Her mom, Trina Heisel, said this has been a life long thing for the family to deal with.
Two years ago, things got really bad. Fluid tore a hole through Alex's right lung. She got put on a transplant list last June for a double lung transplant at at Stanford Health Care in California. Her dad said they've been anxiously waiting for the call saying their daughter had a match.
"We knew we were on the list and we were gonna get the call any moment. And it happened this morning," Jim Heisel said.
So the Heisel's packed their bags and within hours, the non-profit Angel Flight had arranged for a medical flight to get them to California. Alex's transplant happened Sunday night. She'll wake up Monday with new lungs and a new start at life.
"Alex is not going to have cystic fibrosis in her lungs anymore. It's going to be a long road but she's gonna be doing things with her friends that she's never been able to do," Trina said.
Alex has done her best to do what her friends and family does, but it's hard to do even simple things when it feels like you're breathing through a tiny straw all day. A new set of lungs means a trip to Europe with her friends and a few other day to day activities.
"She talked about just walking up the stairs without being tired, running down the mailman," Jim said.
Both Alex's parents are overwhelmed to think their baby girl is about to get two new lungs.
"This is just a dream come true," Trina said. "For the first time ever, I've heard Alex make plans for her future and that's awesome."
Alex will be recovering from surgery for the next few months. She and her mom will be living in Palo Alto, California until Alex is well enough to come back home to Idaho. Bills are already mounting from countless trips to California for check ups and the Heisels say they have insurance, but they're looking to the community for some support during this hard time. You can donate to their fundraising efforts here.
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