Hélène Campbell, the young Ottawa woman who gained fame for her campaign to raise awareness about organ donation, is showing some signs of improvement since her double lung transplant last week, according to an update from her family.
Writing Wednesday on Campbell's website, alungstory.ca, her mother Manon provided the first update on the site concerning her daughter's condition since an April 6 post-surgery news conference.
Manon Campbell said Hélène was assisted into a chair for the first time on Tuesday, and despite the equipment around her mouth "managed to give me a big smile and two thumbs up when I walked into her room."
"Early mobility is very important to prevent possible complications from such a major surgery," she wrote.
Campbell's seven-hour surgery at Toronto General Hospital ended at about 9:30 a.m. ET Friday morning.
Doctors said the 20-year-old woman will remain in intensive care while they wait to see whether her body accepts the new lungs. Signs of rejection take up to two weeks to appear.
Campbell continues to receive assistance from a ventilator but her mother wrote "her breathing is slowly improving each day."
"She is no longer in an induced coma but goes back and forth between somnolence and alertness," she wrote.
Twitter campaign attracted celebrity attention
Campbell achieved fame using her Twitter account @alungstory to raise awareness about organ donation. Her campaign caught the attention of celebrities including teen pop star Justin Bieber and U.S. talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who had Campbell on her show via Skype in February to discuss organ donation. Campbell's Twitter account now has 12,995 followers.
Campbell had been waiting for the transplant surgery since last July, when she discovered she had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a degenerative lung disease, after collapsing on a hiking trail.
She moved in January from the Ottawa neighbourhood of Barrhaven to Toronto with her mother while her father and three siblings remained in the Ottawa area.
Her mother also thanked supporters who had written words of encouragement and prayers.
"As commented by Justin Bieber last January, Hélène has amazing strength, which we witness daily," she wrote.