'I'm very thankful:' Community leader recovering after fighting COVID, receiving double-lung transplant

’I’m very thankful: ’ Community leader recovering after fighting COVID, receiving double-lung transplant

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- We all rejoiced when we found out she got her double-lung transplant, and now we’re hearing from her for the first time after that procedure.

It’s been a week since Carmen Lerma’s successful surgery, and today we found more about what’s next for her on her journey towards recovery.

She says after spending the last couple months in the hospital, she attributes her healing to all the support she’s received.

“I’m feeling great,” Carmen said.

Carmen Lerma speaks to us from her hospital room at UW-Health in Madison for the first time since her successful double-lung transplant.

“I’m breathing at 100% right now. And the breathing is amazing. When they took that tube out of my mouth, and I was able to take that deep breathe, that was the best feeling ever.”

Carmen’s months-long fight against COVID-19 caused her severe complications; among them, irreversible damage to her lungs.

She hopes her story can help others avoid going through the same pain.

“Do the right thing. Make the right decisions. You may not be carrying that virus the way someone else carries it. Look at me. I’m a prime example.”

Lerma says she can’t wait to hug her family again and thank all those whose love and support helped her get through some tough times.

“It’s been great, I am overwhelmed to see everything that is going on out there that people are doing, how they’re coming together for me, I would have never thought about it," she said. "I’m very thankful for them.”

After this major procedure, Carmen is going through several exercises and therapies as she adjusts to her new lungs and takes medication for the rest of her life, but she says it’s worth it to have this second chance.

Her GoFundMe is still up if you’d like to donate to help Carmen with her medical bills as she continues to recover.

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