She will never forget when the nurse said: “It’s a go!”

Double Lung Transplant Recipient. Maria is from Caracas, Venezuela.

In April 2007, Maria was diagnosed with Systemic Scleroderma. At 35 years old, Maria had already survived atypical viral pneumonia, chronic encephalitis and several days in a coma. Systemic Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune, degenerative and incurable disease that causes Pulmonary Fibrosis and Pulmonary Hypertension, among other conditions. Maria was connected to oxygen concentrators for four years to keep her alive. The only way to save Maria was a double lung transplant. A double lung transplant was not available in her country.

Maria tried to receive a lung transplant in several centers around the world. She was rejected in Spain, Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina and in several transplant centers in the United States due to her base disease. In October 2014, she was officially listed for a double lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Maria remembers this day as one of the happiest days of her entire life. To raise funds to pay for her transplant, she created a bracelet campaign. Maria and her family made and sold more than 100,000 handmade bracelets with a message of hope.

Maria received the largest amount of supplemental oxygen, a person can receive to stay alive. She was on the verge of death. On December 23, 2014, she received the best Christmas gift ever: a double lung transplant. Maria will never forget when the nurse said: “It’s a go!”

It has been four very challenging years but she has lived to the fullest. In 2018, Maria overcame two renal failures, a respiratory virus, and a gynecological dysplasia. As a consequence of her treatment and condition, she was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 5, and now she requires a Life-Saving Kidney Transplant.

Maria has made a commitment to educate and raise awareness, especially in the Hispanic community, about how important organ, tissue and eye donation is. Maria calls organ donation: “the most wonderful miracle of modern medicine.” After been connected to supplementary oxygen for 4 years, in wheelchairs, unable to even go to the bathroom by herself, today she can breathe.

Currently, Maria is an Ambassador and Spokesperson of Respirar es Vivir Foundation and Ambassador of Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency, United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), Lifebanc, Organización Nacional de Trasplante de Venezuela (ONTV) and Mentor of the Lung Transplant Foundation. As an Ambassador and Spokesperson of Respirar es Vivir Foundation, she promotes and encourages different activities to improve the lives of patients suffering from chronic obstructive respiratory diseases.

Maria –Transplanted: December 23, 2014

Follow Maria on Social Media: Instagram @margaragamboa or Twitter @margaragamboa

Support Lung Transplant Foundation

A lung transplant transforms lives affected by diseases such as cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis and COPD. These diseases affect more than 15 million Americans and are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Rejection rates for lung transplant recipients are worse than that of any transplanted organ. We want to change that through funding research to stop all lung transplant rejection. We can’t do it alone. We invite you to help people like Maria. Make a donation or learn more about how you can be involved.