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'She is a warrior': Hay River woman recovering from double lung transplant

A 55-year-old Hay River mother and grandmother with advanced COPD — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — is in critical but stable condition after undergoing a double lung transplant in Edmonton on Friday.

Dawn Loutit is breathing on her own after the surgery

A photo of Dawn Loutit taken in 2017. She is in stable condition after undergoing a double lung transplant. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

A 55-year-old Hay River mother and grandmother with advanced COPD — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — is breathing on her own after undergoing a double lung transplant in Edmonton on Friday, according to a text from her daughter Rosa Loutit.  

Rosa told CBC her mother Dawn Loutit still has a "long journey ahead" and remains in critical but stable condition while her body adjusts to the new lungs. Rosa is in Halifax but talked to her mother over video chat Tuesday afternoon. 

In a Facebook post, Rosa wrote, "I feel so blessed and happy for my mother. This is all she would ever talk and dream about. I can only imagine the emotion she is feeling."

On Monday afternoon, Dawn was on a breathing machine and sedated, allowing her body to fight an infection, according to her sister Tracy Todd.

Prior to being sedated, Dawn opened her eyes, smiled and nodded.

A long and difficult wait

Loutit has known for more than a decade that she needed the life-saving transplant. She is a former smoker who had tuberculosis as a child.

She was placed on a transplant list in 2017, after 10 years of intense screening and testing.

In June 2018, she moved to Edmonton to be near the hospital, in case a donor became available.

She got the call late Thursday night.

Before heading to the University of Alberta Hospital, Loutit posted a short, emotional Facebook video thanking the donor, who she said is from B.C., and requested prayers and online messages.

"These are happy, nervous tears," said Dawn while wiping her eyes.

Dawn has lived most of her adult life with COPD. As her condition deteriorated, she found simple tasks like dressing or doing dishes physically impossible.

Dawn has said it was not just her failing health that weighed heavily on her but financial concerns as well.

Rosa is posting regular updates from Nova Scotia about her mom's condition.

On Tuesday she wrote that her mother "is doing and looking amazing!"

Dawn Loutit with young visitors. Loutit has been waiting for double lung transplant surgery for 10 years. (Submitted by Georgia Loutit)

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said that Dawn Loutit is 54 years old; in fact, she is 55.
    Feb 26, 2019 3:03 PM CT

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