The majority of people breathe without consciously choosing to do so. But Jennifer Jones, whose every breath had been accompanied by excruciating suffering, would never forget the day she was able to breathe normally without a respirator.
Jennifer, now 40, was identified as having cystic fibrosis eleven years ago. As her health declined, Jennifer’s lungs began to lose their capacity and functionality, making even the most basic act of breathing agonizing for her.
She started looking for a lung transplant donor in June of last year. By October, her lung function had decreased to 10.8%, necessitating a respirator to support her breathing.
After a successful lung transplant procedure, Jennifer’s fiancé Robert Ronnenberg, 38, made the moving decision to capture the moment she was trying out her new set of lungs. For the first time in a very long time, Jennifer was finally able to breathe comfortably.
Jennifer remembers saying, “For so long I have not been able to breathe like that,” right after her operation.
“At first I was afraid, but then I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I can breathe!’” she continued. It was overpowering, yet I can still breathe and I’m still taking in all this air. It was amazing.
Jennifer’s miraculous recovery was entirely owed to the selfless deed of an anonymous donor who gave her the lungs.
She also has a unique message for the donor family on National Donor Day.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s not about me; it’s about them, and their legacy endures because I get to experience it now. This is a unique thing about which I am incredibly proud, and I take these lungs and this gift almost as a child, which I will guard with all my might. But my miracle, not their legacy.
Rob later posted a YouTube video of Jennifer taking her first unhindered breath, and it has now received over 30 million views. Other donor families who viewed the movie left some touching comments for them as well.
One woman, according to Rob, contacted them after viewing the video online. Rob says, “She lost a nephew. “You know, we got the card from the family who got the organs, and that was nice, but nothing moved me or gave me that sense of closure and really what it means to be an organ donor and recipient like watching this video and seeing her face and knowing that she gets to live and seeing that impact,’ she said. That is the main focus of this.
Rob and Jennifer were really grateful for the transplant and hoped that the video would help spread the word about how significantly transforming an organ donation may be for a person’s life.
Watch Jennifer finally breathing with her new lungs for the first time in this breath-taking moment: