DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Nathan and Tricia Lawrenson are waiting--waiting inside their rental apartment in Durham near Duke University Medical Center.
Their cell phones are on with the volume up 24/7. That's because they're waiting for a life-saving call that could come any time now.
When it does come, Tricia, who has cystic fibrosis, could become only the sixth person at Duke to receive a rare, third double-lung transplant.
As they wait, the Outer Banks couple stays encouraged by a flood of homemade signs that cover the walls of their apartment--signs of love and support made by members of their community back home and held during a surprise send off.
Even the town's Mayor produced a video of the emotional send off. Friends, family, even strangers lined the streets of Kill Devil Hills as Nathan and Tricia left home to prepare for the transplant at Duke.
Nathan recorded his own video from inside the car, capturing Tricia's emotional reaction.
"Oh my gosh," Tricia grabs a tissue and starts to cry. She looks at her husband, who was in on the surprise, "there are so many people!"
"I had no idea until I saw the people and the signs and I just started to cry," Tricia explained. "Because how could you not after seeing all the love and support."
Tricia had her first double-lung transplant at Duke in 2008. It came with a surprise pregnancy. Against doctor's advice, the couple insisted on keeping the baby. Gwyneth Rose Lawrenson was born at 24 weeks, weighing just over one pound.
In 2013, after Tricia rejected her first set of lungs, she received a second double-lung transplant at Duke.
She and Nathan were both told she would not get a third chance.
However, after chronic rejection set in once again, they were both surprised to receive another offer.
"Just to be offered," Nathan says, "that was a huge surprise."
Nathan believes one of the reasons Tricia is being offered this opportunity is all the love and support from their community back home. They've helped the couple raise money, and help with family responsibilities.
Their days are busy with classes and physical therapy. Tricia loves encouraging other patients waiting for transplants. The Lawrensons said hardest part is being away from their children.
At night they FaceTime with Gwyneth, now 12, and their son Hunter.
"They're my reason that I fight every day that I do," Tricia beams. "And the dream of being back with them and reunited, back as a family of four. We definitely miss them, that's the hardest"
Another hard part: expenses. Duke expects patients like Tricia to raise a certain amount of money to complement insurance.
A number of events in several states are helping raise money for Tricia's medical trust through GoFundMe.
Tricia knows there is a reason she's had this journey. She longs for the day she can travel again, visit family and share her incredible story of hope.
If you would like to help or find out more about their story on GoFundMe or their Facebook page.
Outer Banks woman seeking 3rd double-lung transplant at Duke University Hospital
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