Orla Tinsley feels like ‘a teenager again’ after double transplant

Cystic fibrosis campaigner is in recovery following operation in December

Orla Tinsley urged people to have conversations about organ donation with their families.

Orla Tinsley urged people to have conversations about organ donation with their families.

 

Cystic fibrosis campaigner Orla Tinsley has said she feels like “a teenager again” as she continues her recovery from a double lung transplant in December.

Ms Tinsley (30), who has cystic fibrosis and has campaigned vigorously for better treatment in the Republic, underwent the procedure at New York’s Presbyterian Hospital, which is linked to Columbia University.

“It’s like being a teenager again,” she told RTÉ News. “I have so much strength. I didn’t realise how much I had lost over the period of time. I can focus better. I can read faster. I’m doing yoga three times per week, which helps the muscles heal properly.

“All the nerves that were clutched around the transplant want to kind of bunch down but I used yoga to pull them apart so I’m getting as much strength into my body as possible. I’m doing cardio three times per week. It’s phenomenal.

“I found myself walking in the park with my mum the other day and I had to stop. I was overwhelmed because I wasn’t getting tired and I wasn’t getting breathless, which would have been a normal occurrence for the past two years, even with oxygen.”

Ms Tinsley urged people to have conversations about organ donation with their families and to consider signing up as donors.

“I was getting emotional because I was thinking of my donor and their sacrifice, generosity, and forward thinking,” she said. “Their ability to have the conversation with their family beforehand, and when tragically they died, they gave me life.

“It is the greatest legacy anyone could ever give to someone else. I just hope that people will consider being organ donors. I’m very thankful for all the incredible support I’ve had from Ireland and people here in the US too.

“It was really amazing that people saw my story and decided they wanted to become organ donors.

“When I woke up from my transplant in the intensive care unit and was recovering, I got a lot of tweets from people in Ireland with photos of the organ donor card they were signing. That was an essential part of my recovery and it still is.”