By Debbie Cheramie

Most stories start: So it was a hot day on such and such a month when I came into the world ... but my story starts in the middle. I had an experience the majority of population never could imagine. I was born twice, in a manner of speaking.

I got a double lung transplant when I was 26 years old, and that’s where this story begins.

It was Oct. 4 when I got my new lungs and the disease that ravaged my old lungs was out of my body for good.

I have been in Galveston for the last year going through this incredible journey and have had the pleasure of encountering the best group of people.

The doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital and even some Galvestonians have supported me in a way I will be eternally grateful for.

As a transplant patient, it is an emotional roller coaster with all the waiting and complications that arise, but the benefits of having this surgery are overwhelming.

I will never forget the sacrifice my donor had to make for my life to continue. That person gave me life, and I can never be thankful enough for the precious gift given to me.

During this holiday season, people reflect on the blessings the year has given them. I have much to be thankful for; I have a new lease on life and am liberated from the suffering of my old lungs. I have gotten exceptional care at UTMB. 

Dr. Daniel Beckles, UTMB cardiothoracic surgeon, Debbie Cheramie, recipient of a bilateral lung transplant for Cystic Fibrosis, and Dr. Vincent Valentine, professor of medicine and medical director of the UTMB Texas Transplant Center. 

This is an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have always kept my optimistic point of view through all this, and my support system was crucial in keeping my spirits up on those difficult days.

My writing has helped me cope with the sometimes emotional days I have come to have. Knowing that I have such good people to lean on helps the healing process not just physically but emotionally as well. 

I now feel as though the goals I always have wanted to accomplish in my life, like finishing school, getting a job, moving away, now are obtainable.

The transplant has given not just my life back but my hope in the future, which is my thank you this Turkey Day. 

Debbie Cheramie, of Morgan City, La., has been living in Galveston for almost a year, awaiting a double-lung transplant.