Have lungs, will travel Round those Bays

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 05:00 24/02/2013

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When doctors started giving Katherine Fraser "that look" she knew her time had run out.

Bound to a breathing device after both lungs collapsed in November 2011 due to cystic fibrosis, Fraser said the doctors "had run out of options basically".

"There was no more treatments they could give me. Everyone was giving me that look you get. That ‘I know what's going to happen to you look'."

But thanks to a donor, Fraser has a new set of lungs that she does not plan to waste.

The 30-year-old will join more than 70,000 people at the Ports of Auckland Round the Bays fun run on March 10.

Cystic fibrosis causes the body to produce mucus that clogs the lungs and other organs.

"After my lungs had collapsed I was very restricted," Fraser said.

"Things like hanging out the washing were too much. I would load the dishwasher and then sit down for half an hour."

Eventually she was confined to a hospital bed waiting for someone to die.

"You know you need a set of lungs, but you are also waiting for a family to have the worst day of their lives so you can continue [living]. That's really hard to get your head around."

Last year, when all other options had been exhausted, she received a life-saving pair of lungs.

"I took a lot of time taking deep breaths and enjoying it."

Fraser still has cystic fibrosis but it no longer affects her lungs, giving her a second chance at life.

"The lungs are the part that are going to keep me alive or kill me."

The average lifespan of transplanted lungs is currently five years, but the organ is known to last more than 10 years in some people, with outcomes improving.

"I don't intend to waste these lungs. That is partly why I'm doing the Round the Bays," she said.

Fraser has gone from struggling to walk to her letterbox to one-hour walks with her training partner, dog Koby.

Proceeds from the fun run and walk event go to a number of charities, including the Cystic Fibrosis Association of NZ.

The grant from the event will be used for buying more equipment. There is no cure for cystic fibrosis, only life extending medication and therapy.

Fraser still needs to take medication and is on a special diet, but no longer needs to clear mucus from her lungs morning and night.

She said it was her legs holding her back.

"I did want to run [Round the Bays], but my knees won't let me. I have these fantastic new lungs and my legs I haven't used in 30 years don't like me very much."

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- Sunday Star Times

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