By Kathryn Burcham,

PITTSBURGH — A Massachusetts woman waited more than two years for a lifesaving lung transplant, and just before Christmas, a miracle.

The call came in at 10 p.m. Saturday night; the perfect set of lungs were available for Ashland resident Caitlin O’Hara.

Her family said this was truly her last hope.

“As the head of her team said, her only choice after this was heaven. In case it didn’t happen,” said her father, Nick.

Nick and his family were waiting for a good news all day at a Pittsburgh hospital, during Caitlin’s nearly 12-hour lifesaving surgery. The Ashland family has been working with a team of doctors there for years — waiting for a double lung transplant.

Caitlin, diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 2, has been on life support for two weeks

“It’s been an incredibly emotional day,” said Laura Kelly, a family friend.

Though her family and friends are ecstatic that a donor was found, it is tempered by the knowledge that someone else suffered a tremendous loss

“Her second chance at life meant that someone had lost their life,” said Laura.

She believes Caitlin’s moment finally came because of the power of prayer, growing support from across the world as her story was shared over the last few critical days.

“The story has gone as far as China, so the story, yes I do believe that this energy surrounding Caitlin has made a difference,” she said.

For Caitlin’s family, the lungs are the ultimate Christmas gift, and one they would ask others to consider sharing.

“If you could do that for Christmas, they’d give themselves the best present ever. And if they could do that, it would help a lot of people,” said Nick.

Caitlin came out of the surgery doing well but faces an intense recovery.

By law, her family must wait six months before learning the identity of the donor but say they plan to share their immense gratitude with the donors’ family.


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