|Helene Campbell, 20, of Ottawa is having double lung transplant surgery in Toronto on April 6, 2012. (File Photo)
OTTAWA — Helene Campbell, 20, who spearheaded a worldwide campaign to raise awareness for organ donation — a campaign that included a surprise appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Twitter support from Justin Bieber — received a double lung transplant Friday morning.
The surgery lasted nearly 12 hours.
On her blog at alungstory.ca, Campbell's family confirmed the Ottawa woman came out of surgery shortly after noon.
"Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts, best wishes, support, and prayers for Helene," Campbell's mother, Manon, said.
In a statement, Campbell's family asked for privacy as they help her recover.
They also thanked the organ donor's family.
"We are grateful to you for your generosity. Helene will, as we will, honour and care for your gift forever."
Last September, Campbell was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is a thickening of the lung tissue.
Through her social media campaign, Campbell got the attention of both DeGeneres and Bieber — resulting in both increased awareness and a jump in the number of donors.
DeGeneres featured Campbell on her show live via Skype, and promised they'd have one of DeGeneres' signature dances together after the transplant.
On Friday, DeGeneres tweeted: "I'm so happy my friend Helene Campbell @alungstory was finally able to get her lungs. I'm sending lots of love and healing thoughts."
Late this week Campbell was admitted to Toronto General Hospital so doctors could monitor her weakening condition.
Campbell's family said the transplant came just in the nick of time.
Her pulmonary function had deteriorated to just 20%.
"Recent tests show that it is no longer just a question of lung capacity," Manon wrote on the family's blog. "Her lungs have also lost some of the ability to do the proper oxygen exchange."
That means her heart had to work harder to keep pumping oxygen through her body.