15 year-old Siouxland native makes history after heart-lung tran - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

15 year-old Siouxland native makes history after heart-lung transplant

OMAHA, Neb. (KTIV) -

"It's less than 50 a year, internationally so, it's a pretty rare operation," says Dr. Aleem Siddique, with Nebraska Medicine- Nebraska Medical Center.

A Siouxland girl makes history, becoming Nebraska's first patient to receive a heart-lung transplant. 

The rare operation has saved the life of a 15-year-old Dakota City, Nebraska, native. 

At just two years old Maria Wilmes was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. 

It caused Maria to have high blood pressure in her lungs which was from a congenital heart disease. 

Her parents though her life expectancy would only be five to ten more years after she was diagnosed. 

"I could barely walk around school or really go anywhere without my heart pounding and me being out of breath," says 15-year-old Maria Wilmes. 

Maria says she has always had difficulties breathing while walking. 

She says she was never as fast as the other kids around her.  

And, in September of 2017, Maria began to feel sicker than ever. 

Maria and her family knew she needed a transplant.

"It broke my heart because, I mean, I was trying to avoid a transplant my whole life but, um, (PAUSE)  I waited a couple weeks and I decided that a transplant was the best thing for me to do," says Maria Wilmes. 

In December of last year, Maria and her family got a call of a lifetime. 

"So, when I got the call, I mean, I was shocked and my mind was blank like, I didn't really know what to do. I didn't know what to think," says Wilmes. 

As soon as Maria and her parents got the call, they had to drive to Omaha for the first-of-its-kind transplant in Nebraska. 

"Later after the surgery and when I woke up, I just felt new again and it felt amazing," says Wilmes. 

"You should be an organ donor because to the world you may be one person but, to one person you will be the world to them," says Wilmes. 

Maria says she prays for the soul of her donor every night. 

"Most of all, I'd like to thank my organ donor," says Wilmes

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