When Melissa Benoit from Burlington, Ontario went to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing, she had no idea she would end up being the first person in the world to survive a risky new operation.
Benoit was born with cystic fibrosis, a disease that fills her lungs up with mucus and makes them more likely to get infected, which is exactly what had happened. She was transferred to a hospital in Toronto when her infection got really bad, and doctors realized she only had a few hours to live.
To keep her alive, they tried something that sounds crazy: they removed both her lungs.
Benoit needed a lung transplant, but leaving her unhealthy lungs inside her body while she waited was too dangerous. Instead, doctors planned to remove the sick organs and replace them with machines until new lungs were available.
The doctors worried about a lot of risks involved with the surgery, but they knew if they didn't act fast Benoit's three-year-old daughter would lose her mom. After 13 doctors performed a 9-hour surgery, Benoit began to get better right away. The doctors say within 20 minutes of removing her lungs she started to improve quickly.
Doctors had no idea how long she could survive without lungs, but thankfully a pair of matching organs became available within a week. Still, surviving for 6 days without any lungs is unheard of, and Benoit owes her doctors a big debt for the incredible work they did.
Benoit is still recovering from all the damage her infected lungs did to her body, and she may need a kidney transplant from her mother soon, but she's glad that her doctors risked everything to save her life.
"It took me a while to realise what happened. I just couldn't piece it together," she told the Toronto Star. "You really come from the brink of death to back living at home. But I'm just so grateful, so happy to be home."