For her entire life, 14-year-old Angelynn Luckado has suffered from cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening condition that severely limits her ability to breathe. Things got worse in December 2014, when doctors at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, AL had no choice but to place her on ECMO, a type of bypass machine to take over the work of her heart and lungs, which had been slowly failing her. After the treatment, she then got even more devastating news: She needed a double lung transplant and heart transplant to fix the damage the ECMO machine had done to her delicate organs.
She waited 95 days on the organ transplant list, which was a heart-wrenching time for the family.
"You can't give your heart and live, and you can't give your lungs and live, so it's not like we were waiting on a live donor to make a decision," Dovie Luckado, Angelynn's mom, told TODAY. "We had to wait on somebody else's family to lose for us to gain a chance at Angelynn living."
Angelynn finally got a match in November 2015 from the most unexpected place: A family she already knew, and one that had been praying for her for years.
Courtney Harris, a 26-year-old woman also from Alabama, had been living with hydrocephalus, a potentially fatal brain condition, which finally took her life on Nov. 10. Courtney's' organs were a perfect match for Angelynn--and in a bizarre twist of fate, the families were already aware of each other. Courtney's aunt attended the same church as Angelynn's grandfather, and the family had already been praying for Angelynn for years.
After the transplant, Angelynn's oxygen level is higher than it's ever been and she's now able to breathe on her own. In fact, Courtney's decision to donate also helped more than 100 other people through her donations of organs and soft tissue--all good news that's helping Courtney's loved ones get through the grieving process.
"I'm gonna live life to the fullest for me and Courtney," Angelynn told TODAY. "I've got a new guardian angel and now that I have her heart and her lungs, I have a new beginning, which is like a second chance. I have a new life to live."
Learn more about their incredible story.