After 2 years away, a Hawaii woman returns home with a new, healthy set of lungs

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dawn Apio-Manoa and her husband, Sheldon, are finally home.

The couple moved to Seattle when Dawn became gravely ill with pulmonary arterial hypertension and desperately needed a new set of lungs.

Nine months ago, the 44-year-old got the call that a pair of lungs was available. And she went under the knife.

Today, she's much better.

And she's elated to be back in the islands.

"It's good. It feels really good," she said, after getting off a flight from Seattle.

Lung transplants aren't an option in Hawaii.

That's why Apio-Manoa had to wait for a donor while living in Seattle near the University of Washington Medical Center.

She had to be ready immediately if donated lungs were found. And nine months ago, she got the call from the medical staff.

Less than 24 hours later, Dr. Mike Mulligan began nearly six hours of surgery, replacing her diseased lungs with healthy ones from an unknown donor.

Mulligan says double lung transplants aren't exactly rare, but it's not common either and patients must be careful about infection.

And recovery was slow.

But Apio-Manoa's husband, extended family and the medical staff at UW Medicine have been by her side.

She even got a lung-shaped pillow from the hospital, which the ICU nurses signed.

These days, Apio-Manoa is breathing easier and with the warm embrace of her mom, Carol Ann, this Hawaii homecoming is extra special.

"I got another lease on life. Live life to the fullest. Not just me, but for my donor," she said.

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