A Maryville family is thankful for coming home and breathing deeply. The Norris family has been home for one week since their daughter successfully underwent a double lung and liver transplant.
Kathryn Norris was diagnosed as a baby with cystic fibrosis. Last year she left for Duke, her lungs functioning at just 15 percent, and this summer she received her new organs.
“It feels wonderful to have my family back home,” said Kathryn’s mom, Cristina Norris.
Kathryn Norris’s name was added to the list last November and they waited 280 days for her to breathe on her own.
“Once they did extubate me, those first breaths were weird. They felt better than before,” said Kathryn Norris.
“Transplant life is not a cure to cystic fibrosis or other lung diseases, it just changes the disease,” explained her dad Allen Norris.
With two new lungs and a liver, it took many weeks for Kathryn Norris to recover after the surgery at Duke. She’s now healthy enough to be home and is still exceeding everyone’s expectations.
“I feel good. I feel really good. I can breathe deeply, which is weird, I’m not used to it yet,” said Kathryn Norris.
As of today she says her lungs are functioning around 57 percent and that number can only go up.
“She was given a second chance and now it’s time to make the best of it,” said Allen Norris.
“My muscles give out before my lungs which is weird. I’ve never experienced that because usually when I workout, it’s my lungs that determine how long of a workout I’ll do and now it’s my muscles,” added Kathryn Norris.
The transplant surgery has given Kathryn Norris an incredible amount of independence as she’s no longer on oxygen and gained four to five hours a day no longer having to do CF treatments.
“It’s crazy freedom that was given to her because someone else gave of themselves,” said Allen Norris.
“Well, I got my personal training certification, so I’m a personal trainer. I’ll try and get a job and in the spring I’ll finish my college degree,” said Kathryn Norris.
The family says she’ll possibly have to undergo two more surgeries as a way to protect her new organs. Over the coming weeks, months and years, Kathryn Norris will have to visit her physician team at Duke making sure her body is not rejecting the new lungs and liver.
To register to become an organ donor, visit your local motor vehicle department or go to https://organdonor.gov/register.html.