Family’s mixed emotions after brave Tracey-Lee's transplant

COURAGEOUS Grafton girl Tracey-Lee Schuhmacher has finally been granted her one wish - a second chance at life.

The 23-year-old cystic fibrosis sufferer underwent a double lung transplant on Sunday, after more than a year waiting on the transplant list.

Her mum, Elaine Doyle, told The Daily Examiner yesterday that Tracey-Lee was recovering from the major operation in the Intensive Care Unit at St Vincent's Hospital.

"After the operation she woke up momentarily, so she knows we're there and she knows she's got a new set of lungs," she said.

NEW LIFE: Tracey-Lee Schumacher gives the thumbs-up just before her double lung transplant on Sunday.
NEW LIFE: Tracey-Lee Schumacher gives the thumbs-up just before her double lung transplant on Sunday.

"She had a good night (on Sunday), she's stable and all vitals are doing what they are meant to do.

"She could be in ICU for up to two weeks, but the doctors were talking about trying to get her breathing on her own and waking her up (soon)."

Tracey-Lee's story first captured the heart of the Clarence Valley community in 2013 when a friend held a fundraiser to help her move closer to Sydney, where she would only be minutes away once she got a call to say they had a pair of lungs.

Having come home to visit friends and family, the much-loved pocket rocket was in the Grafton Base Hospital when she got the phone call on Saturday night to tell her a matching donor had been found.

It couldn't have been better timed - in recent months her health had deteriorated to the point where most of her time was spent in hospital.

"It got to the stage when she was in and out all the time - two weeks in, two days out and then back in for another stint," Ms Doyle said.

"She'd become immune to a lot of the medications she was on and her lungs were deteriorating."

After a rushed flight in the middle of the night, Tracey-Lee was in her hospital gown and prepped for the surgery she so desperately needed, posting photos of herself on Facebook before the surgery to reassure her family and friends.

"She was so brave for all of it - she was nervous but happy and excited because that was her wish," Ms Doyle said.

"It's something we thought might never come; all of a sudden it's just there.

"There's no way to describe the feeling, we're all still stunned. We are very, very grateful to the donor's family but also very sad because someone had to die for my daughter to live - it's a rollercoaster of emotions.

"I think we've all been given a gift."

Providing all goes well, Tracey-Lee's new lungs are expected to give her at least an extra 15-20 years.

Ms Doyle thanked everyone who had supported her in her journey so far.

Close friend Ebony Gillett said she was proud of the strength Tracey-Lee had shown in the 16 years she has known her.

"I can't wait to see how much brighter her future is now," she said.

Click here to donate online toward Tracey-Lee's rehabilitation.