It’s a miraculous Easter weekend for an Ottawa woman who had been waiting for a life-saving operation.
Hélène Campbell underwent a double-lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital Friday.
The 20-year-old from Barrhaven, Ont., was wheeled into an operating room shortly after 12:30 a.m. for the surgery and was out in about 12 hours.
Campbell’s parents spoke to the media Friday afternoon.
“Thank you to that family that made the decision to give the gift of life for Hélène,” her father Alan Campbell said.
“Hélène is all about encouraging others to make that gift. Those decisions will have an impact 40 years down the road, but today that impact was felt in our family.”
In January, Campbell set Twitter ablaze with thousands of tweets and re-tweets including the terms #be-an-organ-donor and be-a-donor.ca, along with Justin Bieber’s Twitter handle @justinbieber. Bieber re-tweeted her message to his 16 million followers.
Meanwhile, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres had Campbell on her show via Skype and then tweeted a message to Campbell after the surgery.
“I’m so happy my friend Helene Campbell @alungstory was finally able to get her lungs,” she wrote. “I’m sending lots of love and healing thoughts.”
Campbell and her mother moved to Toronto several months ago when the young woman was put on the transplant list. She has spearheaded a campaign for organ donation awareness and has garnered attention from celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres.
Ottawa named March 30 Hélène Campbell Day, and hundreds of students from Sir Winston Churchill Public School marched from City Hall to Parliament Hill to raise awareness about organ donation. Many wore ‘Be a Donor’ T-shirts and chanted as they marched.
“[Hélène] has become sort of the face of an issue that doesn’t really have someone to sort of support it,” said Campbell’s friend Tom. “She’s turned it into a story that people can actually listen to and make it their own.”
Their goal was to get as many people as possible to sign up to be organ donors on the spot.
Several weeks ago, Campbell received a call that a set of lungs had become available, but they weren’t suitable. She stayed positive.
“Hey! The transplant has been cancelled because the lungs weren’t a perfect match!” she tweeted. “It’s OK. I’ll get them when they’re the right ones!”
The right ones finally arrived.
You can follow Campbell’s progress on her blog.
With files from CityNews.ca