An Ottawa woman living in Toronto as she awaits a double-lung transplant appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday to talk about the importance of organ donation.
Hélène Campbell, 20, discovered she had a degenerative lung disease after she collapsed on a hiking trail in July. Campbell was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. She now spends most of her time hooked up to an oxygen machine.
But since the diagnosis, Campbell has become well known across Canada for her Twitter campaign to spread the word about organ donation.
Her latest attempt, to catch the attention of American daytime talk show host DeGeneres, was so successful Campbell appeared on DeGeneres's show from Toronto via Skype.
The American entertainer said she had to have Campbell on the show after watching a video on Twitter.
DeGeneres also told Campbell she was an organ donor herself and believed the cause is an important one, and praised Campbell for heading the Twitter campaign for others.
"You’re an amazing, amazing young woman," DeGeneres said, "I get a lot of people that want to meet me or want me to do something, but you actually are sending this out not to help yourself, because you’re on a list and it’s going to happen when it’s going to happen, but you want to help others."
DeGeneres says she and Campbell will 'dance together'
The wait for Campbell's transplant, already a month old, could take up to two years. After the transplant, though, DeGeneres said she wanted Campbell to visit her on the show in Burbank, Calif.
"I want to meet you in person. I’d love to hang out with you backstage and we’re going to dance together. We are going to dance together, you and me," DeGeneres said.
Campbell told CBC Radio One's Ottawa Morning she was blindsided by the interview with DeGeneres. She said her mother knew about the call but was instructed not to tell her daughter.
"I had no idea. If I had known, I wouldn't have worn what I was wearing. I was so nervous, I couldn't even talk," Campbell said with a laugh.
She added her support system has been strong, despite a lot of ups and downs due to her illness. She has a difficult time breathing and often feels weak.
"After an emotional day like yesterday, you kind of just sit there and don't want to talk to anyone," she said, "[The disease] has been a bit more aggressive these days, so I haven't been feeling the best health-wise, but my spirits are great."
Campbell's feverish Twitter campaign also targeted Canadian teen pop star Justin Bieber, who retweeted her in late January.