Dakota City girl received first heart-lung transplant in the state of Nebraska
OMAHA, NE (KTIV) -
Fifteen-year-old Maria Wilmes of Dakota City, Nebraska received a heart-lung transplant in December.
Nebraska Medicine officials said Maria’s transplant started around 1 a.m. on Dec. 5, 2017, and took nearly eight hours.
“Maria’s surgery went very well without any major complications,” says Dr. Aleem Siddique, MBBS, surgical director of lung transplantation. “We are very pleased with Maria’s progress so far and proud of the team’s effort.”
Maria spent nearly two weeks at Nebraska Medicine - Nebraska Medical Center following her transplant. She’s now attending pulmonary rehabilitation sessions to regain her physical strength. Maria’s cardiology and pulmonary teams will continue to work together to make sure her heart and lungs stay healthy. Her doctors are hopeful that Maria can return home within the next few months and start living a normal life.
“I feel really good. I can go for a walk without getting tired and even lie down and sleep at night. I’m really excited to be able to think about the future. I want to be on the cheer team at my school and maybe even play a sport or two,” says Maria. “I can’t thank my medical team enough - they saved my life. I know I’ll always have someone to turn to if I have a problem.”
Maria says she’s especially grateful for her organ donor and their family. Without them, Maria isn’t sure where she’d be today. She encourages everyone who is able to become a registered organ donor. Currently, 120,000 Americans are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. In Nebraska, there are nearly 500 people in need of a donor.
“You should become an organ donor because you can change someone’s life and just mean the world to them,” says Maria.
February 14 marks National Donor Day, a time to recognize all types of donation including organ, eye, tissue, blood, platelets and marrow. It’s also a day to honor those who have given or received the gift of life, are currently waiting or didn’t receive an organ in time.