The Lawrensons live their second life

May 12, 2008 5:55:43 PM PDT
Medical science cannot explain why Tricia Lawrenson is still here on earth. Just weeks ago, even her own husband didn't know if she'd leave Duke hospital alive. Tricia's doctors at Duke had the same fear. She was a very sick woman.

Their story began six months ago.

Nathan and Tricia Lawrenson left their home in Nags Head for Duke University Medical Center so Tricia could prepare for a double-lung transplant. Tricia, has cystic fibrosis. There was one thing standing in the way. Tricia was pregnant!

This was great news for the Lawrensons who were told by doctors to stop trying to conceive, that it would risk both the lives of mom and baby. This made the pregnancy all the more profound. They DID stop trying.

Even more interesting, Tricia had been secretly praying for a miracle baby long before she'd even met her husband.

Despite advice from some doctors to terminate the pregnancy, the couple refused, putting the transplant on hold and the lives of mother and child at even greater risk.

Seventeen weeks in, doctors had to perform an emergency c-section. Nathan had to make a devastating choice. Recalling that devastating moment, holding back tears, he told doctors to take the baby and try to save them both.

Gwyneth Rose Lawrenson was born January 8, 2008, at 24-1/2 weeks weighing only one pound - a micro-preemie.

That was the Lawrenson's first miracle. Tricia and Gwyneth survived.

Little did they know, miracle number two was on its way. Back on the transplant list, even earlier than anticipated, Tricia was about to cheat death again.

In early April a lung donor was found.

This is extraordinary for two reasons. Tricia's lead transplant doctor at Duke, Shu S. Lin, M.D., said Tricia was not only lower on the priority list due to the way the system is set up, but her body could not accept just any lungs. "She also had an unusual antibody which made finding an organ for her a little more challenging," Dr. Lin explained.

On April 2nd, the very complicated, nine-hour double-lung transplant surgery was a success.

One month later, Dr. Lin says she is doing well. Tricia was released from the hospital three weeks after the transplant.

Gwyneth, who is now full term, healthy and cystic-fibrosis free, is close to be released as well. As soon as Tricia completes rehabilitation and Gwyneth is feeding full time on a bottle, the Lawrensons can all go home a family.

As much as they realize the miracles in their young lives, they are also taken aback with overwhelming gratitude.

Nathan again fights back tears when he recalls the first time he saw Tricia after her transplant. He said the family came in the room, immediately took their gloves off, held hands and prayed for the donor's family.

"As much joy as we were experiencing in that moment, knowing Tricia had a second chance at life, there was another family somewhere who was experiencing as much pain as we were experiencing joy. And we prayed for the family," Nathan told me, no longer holding back his tears.

The entire time they've been at Duke, Nathan has faithfully blogged about their very personal story of faith, hope and love. It's garnered the attention of thousands, worldwide.

Knowing she's been read about and prayed for by so many, Tricia says it's very humbling.

Tricia's doctors are also amazed by her case - a cystic fibrosis patient who has survived giving birth and a double-lung transplant.

Dr. Lin, "You have this young lady who literally risked her life to become a mother in the process, and that's just something that we never heard before."

Medical science may not be able to explain why Tricia's still here. But Tricia has her own explanation.

God.

"I think the real message is to follow your heart, and our heart was believing that God would honor our desire to keep our child throughout this pregnancy, even though I knew it would dramatically affect my health. Now here I am with new lungs and I'm able to have a second chance at life."

A second chance to do what many of us take for granted. Simply live.


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