Couple experiences triumphing miracles

The first time Nathan Lawrenson saw Tricia, he knew he wanted to marry her. Three years later, he did.

Theirs is one of the sweetest love stories --full of faith, miracles and very real pain.

At a very young age, Tricia was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). It's an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.

    CF is extremely rare, affecting only 30,000 children and adults in the U.S., 70,000 worldwide.

    The condition causes the body to produce unusually thick, sticky, mucus that clogs the lungs and threatens lung infections. It also obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

    To learn more about this disease visit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Web site.

Nathan knew when they married their life together would not be easy at times, especially in the area of having children. But there is something they have, medical science cannot explain --faith.

For years, Tricia had a secret. One she even kept from Nathan until just recently. Before she had even met her husband she had been praying to God, asking for a miracle baby.

After trying unsuccessfully to conceive for two years, doctors told them to stop. They said it was too risky for Tricia and an unborn child. They were both devastated.

Then last year, Tricia's CF had progressed to the point where she became a candidate for a double lung transplant. They both knew, post transplant, trying to have a family would be out of the question.

Just one day before leaving their home in Nags Head for Durham to begin preparing for the transplant at Duke, Tricia took a pregnancy test. She was pregnant.

They were both stunned, because Nathan said, they had not been trying. They left for Duke Hospital anyway.

As suspected, doctors would not perform a double lung transplant if Tricia proceeded with the pregnancy. Nathan said some of the doctors that did not know them well, suggested an abortion, which was out of the question for the couple.

Seventeen weeks in, however, Tricia was suffering. Doctors wanted to put her on a ventilator to relieve the pressure, but that also came with risks.

If Tricia could not be stabilized during the procedure, Nathan had to decide if he wanted doctors to save Tricia or the baby. Nathan and Tricia decided, in the event, doctors should take the baby and try to save them both.

The day of the procedure, the news was not good. Tricia was not stable and doctors came to Nathan and told him they were taking the baby.

That was 10 weeks ago. Gwyneth Rose Lawrenson was born at 24 and a half weeks, a micro-preemie. She has a long way to go, but is healthy and thriving in the NICU at Duke. Nathan says with amazement and relief, she was not born with Cystic Fibrosis.

Tricia, also has a long way to go, but is surprising her doctors too. She is back on the transplant list at Duke, earlier than expected.

For months now, Nathan, out of their small hospital room, has been spending much of his time telling the world about their personal story. He is on his laptop several hours a day writing on his blog, "Confessions of a CF Husband."

Interest has spread like wildfire, with Nathan getting as many as an average of 25,000 hits a day. People leave comments, encourage them and even send gifts to the hospital. There are also those who criticize them too. People they do not even know, never have even met.

There are many reasons Nathan and Tricia are telling their very personal story. They want people to know about Cystic Fibrosis, organ donation and premature births. But there is another reason, something even greater. Nathan and Tricia want others to be encouraged.

"We don't feel sorry for ourselves, so we don't want anybody else to," Nathan said. "God has kept Tricia safe through all of this, He's given us the most beautiful baby, and she's perfectly healthy."

Tricia, who has to whisper because of the medical equipment allowing her to breath, adds she hopes their story will cause others to have faith in God.

A double-lung transplant, when and if Tricia has the procedure, is not a cure. Gwyneth is not out of the woods yet, but Nathan and Tricia feel blessed.

"We believe that we're blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. And that's really the reason we've been willing to share our story on the internet, because we knew it would be encouraging to people." Nathan adds, "We're willing to put it out there, because we know that other people are going to be encouraged about it. We've already seen it change lives and it has nothing to do with us, it's everything to do with God."

And that prayer Tricia had been praying for so long --for the miracle baby. Nathan doesn't know why she kept it a secret from him, but they both agree on one thing, it came true.

Barbara Gibbs originally interviewed Nathan and Tricia March 7.

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