A 29-year-old Massachusetts woman who received a double long transplant to treat her cystic fibrosis is recovering after contracting a virus from her donor.
Rima Manomaitis, of Pepperell, has been battling the genetic disease that damages the lung since she was an infant.
Her lung function gradually declined to the point where she needed an oxygen machine at all times - but doctors in her home state said she was 'too well' for a transplant.
Manomaitis's sister found a transplant center in Minnesota that would perform the procedure and in May 2017, after eight months on the list, she received her new lungs.
But what doctors didn't know is that the donor had a dormant virus that is common in people of all ages and normally harmless, but can cause complications in people with weakened immune systems, such as organ rejection.
Mainomaitis ended up in the hospital in need of a blood transfusion, but is now recuperating and said she wants others to understand that just because she is a transplant recipient doesn't mean she's 'fixed'.
Rima Manomaitis, 29, from Pepperell, Massachusetts, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at four months old. Pictured: Manomaitis in the hospital after her transplant
Manomaitis (left and right) needed to use a nebulizer twice a day and she had to attend physical therapy where the therapist hit her back and sides to break up the mucus in her lungs. Over the years, she had to use the nebulizer more and more frequently to open up her airways
Manomaitis was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at four months old after her parents took her to the doctor when they noticed she was struggling to gain weight.
Sufferers have a defective gene that causes a build-up of mucus in the airways and makes it increasingly difficult to breathe over time.
Bacteria can become trapped, which can cause the lungs to become damaged or infected, and in some cases send the sufferer into respiratory failure, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Symptoms include persistent coughing, frequent lung infections, shortness of breath and inflamed nasal passages.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation estimates that more than 30,000 people have the condition in the US and that 1,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.
Cystic fibrosis is an incurable genetic disease that affects around 70,000 people worldwide.
A defective gene causes a build-up of mucus in the airwayss, making it increasingly difficult to breathe over time.
Mucus also blocks the natural release of digestive enzymes, meaning the body does not break down food as it should.
Signs and symptoms:A persistent cough that produces thick mucus (sputum) Wheezing Breathlessness Exercise intolerance Repeated lung infections Inflamed nasal passages or a stuffy nose
While healthy people cough naturally, that does not happen for people with CF.
Eventually, lung function depletes to the point that sufferers will need a double lung transplant to survive.
Source: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
The median age of survival is currently 33.4 years, with half of patients living into their fifties or sixties.
Manomaitis said that growing up, she didn't think anything of her condition because she knew no different.
'I think to my parents it was shock,' she said. 'I was too young to realize what it was or what was going on, so my parents were in charge of all my cystic fibrosis stuff. I grew up thinking it was normal.'
She needed to use a nebulizer, a machine that helps you to breathe in medication through a mask, twice a day and she had to attend physical therapy where the therapist hit her back and sides to break up the mucus in her lungs.
Over the years, as Manomaitis's lung function declined, she had to use the nebulizer more and more frequently to open up her airways.
Due to the constant coughing and the strain it required to breathe, Manomaitis couldn't gain weight