Teen undergoes heart, lung transplant - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Teen undergoes heart, lung transplant

Maria Wilmes, 15, underwent a heart-lung transplant in December 2017 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Source: KETV/CNN) Maria Wilmes, 15, underwent a heart-lung transplant in December 2017 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Source: KETV/CNN)

OMAHA, NE (KETV/ CNN) – Nebraska Medicine chose Valentine's Day to announce it had performed a heart-lung transplant on a 15-year-old girl from Dakota City, Nebraska.

The Omaha hospital said the operation was a first in the state.

Maria Wilmes, 15, underwent the operation in December 2017.

"I feel really good,” Wilmes said. “I can go for a walk without getting tired and even lie down and sleep at night. I'm really excited to be able to think about the future."

Wilmes was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2004, caused by congenital heart disease.

By the fall of 2017, her health was declining. Wilmes’ mother said her daughter couldn't sleep at night and that it hurt to breathe.

After consultation with a pediatric cardiologist at Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Maria's parents went to Nebraska Medicine, which renewed its lung transplant program in 2015.

Wilmes went on the waiting list last November, and a donor became available in early December.

"Maria's surgery went well without any major complications," said Dr. Aleem Siddique, surgical director of lung transplantation. "We are very pleased with Maria's progress so far and proud of our team's effort."

Wilmes is undergoing rehabilitation sessions to regain her physical strength, but she is expected to return home to a normal life in a few months.

"I can't thank my medical team enough – they saved my life," Wilmes said.

Wilmes also expressed gratitude to the organ donor and the donor's family.

Valentine’s Day is also National Donor Day. Nearly 120,000 patients are on the waiting list nationwide to receive organ transplants.

Copyright 2018 KETV via CNN. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly