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Miracle Of New Lungs Helps Woman Inspire Others

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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CBS Minnesota (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSMinnesota.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSMinnesota.com/Health

By Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Her family calls what happened to Jamie Hammer a Christmas miracle. Months later, she is telling the story of the transplant that saved her life.

“Yes, I can take a deep breath now. I haven’t been able to do that for a while,” said Jamie.

She can now breathe freely, after a lung transplant saved her life.

“My lungs are cooperating,” she said.

Jamie was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was only five months old. She led an active life until last October when at 31 years of age her lungs began to fail.

It was days before Christmas 2010 when her family learned that without a transplant, Jamie might not live to see Christmas Day.

“Things were really starting to get pretty scared and we knew we were running out of time,” said Chris Hammer, Jamie’s husband.

Jamie spent 100 days in the hospital. Her lungs came just in time.

“Family and faith and hope is what got us through this,” said Jamie.

The transplant took place on her step-daughter Jillian’s birthday.

“It’s more than just a fresh start, it’s a new birth,” said Chris.

Now Jamie is on the mend.

“My lungs were less than 20 percent before the transplant. They’re now at 71 percent,” said Jamie.

She is busy spreading the importance of organ and tissue donation.

“When they choose to be an organ donor they are changing lives they are saving lives,” said Jamie.

Last year, in the region that includes Minnesota and Wisconsin, there were 59 lung transplants. Eighty people are waiting for a lung transplant and thousands more are waiting for other organs.

Jamie hopes telling her story helps others decide to give the gift of life.

“It’s the baby sister who is our hero,” said one of her sisters.

Jamie’s sisters never left her alone in the hospital. Now they are rarely separated.

They look forward to family gatherings, precious time together. Something that would not have been possible if another had not decided to give that gift of life.

“There is a greater purpose with life and I’m going to figure out what it is and every day just do what I can to take advantage of this new life,” said Jamie.

She is already helping others. The University of Minnesota called her back to help be an inspiration to another young lady who, like Jamie, was waiting on a lung transplant.

Jamie returned to the same room she spent 100 days waiting for her lungs to reassure her new friend that miracles do happen.

Jamie’s friend Cindy received her lungs the very next day.

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