A girl who could barely walk one block without losing her breath said Wednesday she felt "born again" after a unique life-saving lung transplant from a live donor - her mother.
"I just learned how to swim, so I want to swim," said 12-year-old Mazie Bond, who dressed in a pumpkin costume during the Halloween day news conference. "I want to roller skate. I want to run with my dog."I feel good," Bond added with a shy smile. "I was hoping I'd get better."
The Salt Lake girl, who received the nation's first lung transplant from a live donor Oct. 25, is already taking short walks in the halls of Stanford Medical Center where the four-hour operation occurred. During the news conference - held to reveal the identities of the two - the girl sat in the lap of her mother, Versell Johnson, who was in a wheelchair.
Dr. Vaughn A. Starnes, head surgeon for the operation, called the recovery of Bond and her 45-year-old mother just "short of remarkable. They've both done very well."
Starnes said Bond hasn't shown any signs of rejecting her new right lung that came from the top third of her mother's right lung. Previously, lung transplants have come from brain-dead donors only.
Born premature, the girl had two damaged lungs because of a condition called bronchopulmonary dysplasia, which causes scarring and high blood pressure of the lungs, a condition that also strains the heart. During the past year, she was on oxygen while at home and she wasn't expected to live more than 18 months, according to doctors.
The girl "may never be a sprinter, but she should be able to go to school, to date, to lead a normal life," Starnes said, adding that her new lung should increase its capacity with use.
There's a 50 percent chance Bond will have a "rejection episode" as her body tries to fight the foreign lung, Starnes said. But because she and her mother were so closely tissue matched the girl has a better than normal 60 percent to 70 percent chance of survival, he said.
"I think it (the operation) opened a new window of opportunity, especially for children" who suffer similar maladies, the doctor said.
Johnson, who's expected to be released from the hospital by the weekend, said she never hesitated about her decision to give up part of a lung.
"Basically, I just wanted to give her a chance to live," said Johnson, a religious woman who broke down in tears while thanking her Calvary Baptist Church for its spiritual and financial help.
"What I did for Mazie is just part of the risk that goes along with being a parent," she added. "And I'd do it again tomorrow."
Bond, a seventh-grader, said she became "real scared" just before the operation and started asking questions about the procedure, including "was my mom going to come out."Afterward, she kept thinking that the mother who had given birth to her 12 years ago had once again given her the gift of life.
"It feels like I got born again with this lung," said Bond, who is expected to go home within three weeks. "It feels weird, but a good weird."
When she gets back to school, Bond said she might try out for cheerleading and she's looking forward to participating in gym class.
What does she want to be when she grows up?
"I want to be a child psychologist . . . or a comedienne," she said, adding that her favorite actor is Bill Cosby who's an educator and a comic.