After battling a life-threatening chronic disease her entire life, one Canadian mom had prepared her family for the every possible outcome and told them that she would try anything if there was a chance she would recover.
So when Benoit developed an infection in her lungs that spread to her entire body, she was put in an induced coma and her husband and mother knew she wanted to fight to stay alive. “Having a chronic disease like cystic fibrosis meant that you talked about the ifs and the whens, about end-of-life care what would happen in certain situations, which I think, is important for anybody to talk about, even if you don’t have a chronic illness,” said mother-of-one Melissa Benoit.
“I would want to fight to the end as long as there was a reasonable chance of recovery,” Benoit said. They knew she would “want to fight for my daughter Olivia, I would want to be back with my family again.” So her husband and mom agreed when her doctors explained a risky plan that involved keeping her alive without lungs, which had never been done before.
Benoit needed a lung transplant, but she was going to die before they were able to find a matching donor, so doctors decided to remove her lungs entirely and used state-of-the-art technology to circulate her blood. For six days, Benoit lived without lungs. After the sixth day, doctors finally found her a match, performed a double-lung transplant, and then brought her out of the coma.
“The last day that I remember was Easter Sunday of 2016, and then I woke up in another hospital unable to move, unable to speak and I didn’t know what happened,” said Benoit, who just recently woke up from the coma. “I remember waking up and my mom was there, and she said, ‘Hi Melissa.’ And I couldn’t say hi and I couldn’t really figure it out but she explained what had happened and I didn’t really believe her at all.”
However, she could immediately feel the difference when she took her first breath because it was the first time in her entire life she could breathe with ease. Benoit still has a long road ahead of her but is thrilled to finally go home after six months in the hospital. “I don’t want to go anywhere except home, I want to enjoy my home again.”