|Hélène Campbell, a double lung transplant recipient - is interviewed by the Toronto Sun after her press conference at Toronto General Hospital on Thursday May 24 2012. (Ernest Doroszuk /QMI AGENCY)
OTTAWA - Ottawa double lung transplant recipient Helene Campbell barely let Ellen Degeneres get a word in, as she celebrated the success of the procedure with a widespread TV audience from her Toronto hospital bed Friday.
Campbell received a life-saving double-lung transplant in April after taking her campaign to find a suitable organ donor onto social media, which later caught the attention of the popular talk show host and the support of Justin Bieber.
Appearing healthy and without the oxygen tubes on the The Ellen Degeneres Show from her hospital room in Toronto, an excited, and radiant Campbell showed just how far she’s come in her seven-week recovery, dominating their six-minute chat over Skype.
“I feel amazing,” Campbell said while the television studio audience cheered. “I feel so good. It’s unbelievable how amazing this has all been.”
Campbell said it took her about a month to feel well enough to tie a shoe, make her bed, and take a standing shower without her oxygen tank - the first time she’s done that in three years. She felt well enough to make her mum dinner on Mother’s Day.
“I haven’t been able to do that in such a long time. I’ve gained the ability to live life again and it’s such a miracle in such a short period of time. Seven weeks. I’m dancing and laughing, and even brushing my teeth without feeling short of breath is amazing. I can laugh and sing like Louis Armstrong with my wonderful voice. It’s been amazing.”
Degeneres said it was Campbell’s positive attitude and enthusiasm for life that got her onto the Ellen show.
“I’ve received messages from people in South Africa, people in the Alps wishing me fresh, new air for my lungs, people in Chicago who have the same disease as me who have been affected by what they saw on the Ellen show,” said Campbell.
“You’ve been a vehicle that’s driven this awareness to an extra level, and got that many more people to sign up (for organ donation). An average day in the States, 18 people die not receiving the right organs.
“What you’ve done is hopefully increase that number to less than 18 receiving the gift of life like me, able to dance again and laugh and be with their families. So I want to thank you so much, and the positive effect this has had on others has encouraged me to keep going down. It’s like positive feedback group. Seeing you positive keeps me positive to keep others positive. It’s uplifting. Others who have been against organ donation now support it. It’s amazing that so many people want to give this gift now. I want to thank you for everything you’ve done.”
“Listen to you,” a gobsmacked Ellen said. “So articulate. This is why people need to be donors. When you see what someone did for you, it’s amazing.”
To prove how far she’s come in her recovery, and to show thanks to Degeneres, Campbell presented a video of her dancing in Toronto, where she is still recovering.
“Watching your show, seeing you dance when I was in ICU would make me happy. All through this journey and even before, I’ve loved watching you dance when I couldn’t dance ... so I kind of made you a post-transplant dance. It’s premature. I’ll get better, I promise.”
Degeneres closed by saying she could not wait to meet Campbell and her mother again.
“We’re going to dance again as soon as your healthy enough to travel to California.”
“I’ll see you soon Helene.”