Body

Real life: I had a double lung transplant then didn't recognise my baby

Mum of three, Samantha, was given just 14 days to live after she collapsed eight days after giving birth to a baby boy.

By Take 5 team
I held my newborn bub, Jacob, as my two girls, Caitlyn and Tiarna nestled in either side of me on the lounge.
"Smile for the camera!" my mum said.
It was one week since I'd become a mother again and my hubby, Benjamin, and I had brought the kids over to visit my parents, who were staying at a hotel.
We spent most of the day lazing around by the pool, eating ice-cream and taking tonnes of family photos before the afternoon sun started to fade.
"Let's make a move," Mum called, scooping Jacob into her arms and giving him a big kiss. "I have a wedding to get to."
Picking up our towels, we left the pool area and began walking through the foyer of the hotel. Suddenly, I started to feel light-headed and everything became blurry.
"Mum, I'm going …"
Only a few words escaped my mouth before I hit the ground and darkness enveloped me.
Next thing I knew, a white light pierced my eyes. I was lying in a hospital bed, and couldn't seem to move my arms or legs.
I heard my mum gasp as she saw that I'd opened my eyes.
"My darling, you made it!" she exclaimed, moving closer.
What was she talking about? How had I got here? All I could think of was my craving for sugar that was growing stronger and stronger.
"Can I have a can of Coke?" I stammered.
Mum laughed delicately, while a nurse quickly went to get one for me.
"After everything she's been through, your daughter deserves more than a Coke," the nurse noted.
Been through what? I was still confused.
"I heard my mum gasp as she saw that I'd opened my eyes."
Been through what? I was still confused.
Mum's face was grim as she held my hand and leaned closer.
"Do you remember when we were back at the hotel?" she asked.
In my mind's eye, I saw pieces of our day at the pool, though I failed to join the shards of memory together.
"You had pulmonary hypertension," she said.
The words meant nothing to me. Mum described it as a condition where blood pumps through the lungs faster than normal.
"Your heart was four times bigger than it should have been and your lungs were failing," Mum continued. "You needed a double lung transplant, but it wasn't that simple."
As she kept talking, I felt a shudder run down my spine. Was she saying that I had someone else's body parts inside me?
"The hospital was searching all of Australia and New Zealand to find some for you. They only had two weeks or else you'd die."
I started to cry, overwhelmed by the news.
After the transplant, I was unconscious for six days before waking up.
Mum could see how shaken I was, and left the room, promising to return with something to cheer me up.
"Here's Jacob," she said, placing a baby in my arms. "Give him a cuddle."
I looked at the child that lay beside me in astonishment.
"It was only then that I started to realise I'd been unconscious for two weeks."
"That's not Jacob," I said. "He's too old. My boy's only one week old."
It was only then that I started to realise I'd been unconscious for two weeks.
It wasn't long before I felt the same overwhelming love for Jacob return. He'd been without a mum when he was so young.
"I'll never leave you," I told him.
We decided to keep our girls away until I started to improve. I didn't want them to see me with tubes hanging out.
When Benjamin finally brought them in, they were too overjoyed to pay attention to what state I was in.
All I could do was say how much I loved them. Moving my arms was such a struggle that I couldn't cuddle them or run a hand through their beautiful hair like I wanted.
"You'll be fine, Mummy," my oldest daughter, Tiarna, said.
But I wasn't so sure.
For the next few weeks, I was sent to gruelling rehab where I had to develop enough strength to use my arms and legs again.
When things got tough, I closed my eyes and thought of them. I was a mum. How was I going to raise three kids if I couldn't even feed myself?
Eventually, I was allowed to leave hospital with a walking frame.
I returned to my parent's house so that they could help me look after my children while Benjamin went to work.
I hope that by next year I can return to work. Despite everything that happened, I feel like the luckiest woman in the world.
I'll always thank Jacob for my close encounter with death. If I'd fallen sick anywhere else or at any other time, I might never have made it through.

read more from