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After COVID-related transplant delays, 16-year-old N.S. girl gets lung transplant

Lisa Ali and her 15-year-old daughter Tahlia look out from the front door of their Halifax-area home in Cole Harbour, N.S., on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan.
Lisa Ali and her 15-year-old daughter Tahlia look out from the front door of their Halifax-area home in Cole Harbour, N.S., on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan.

HALIFAX – A teenaged girl who set out with her grandmother and mother last spring on a 1,800-kilometre RV trip to seek her new lungs has received the life-changing operation in an era of COVID-related delays.

Tahlia Ali left Halifax on May 20 after receiving word that medical specialists preferred she be near the University Health Network and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto as the pandemic continued.

Read more: Transplant patient’s pandemic life: family bonding, and hope that lungs come soon

In June, when she last spoke to The Canadian Press, the 16-year-old said she felt ready for the oft-delayed operation, as her energy levels had fallen.

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Her grandmother, Judy Robichaud, describes the double lung transplant performed on Monday as “very successful.”

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She says the initial surgery to repair two holes in Tahlia’s heart was somewhat more difficult than expected because the heart was more enlarged than anticipated. Robichaud estimates the dual operations required 13 hours.

Click to play video 'Transplant recipient meets donors family in heartfelt reunion' Transplant recipient meets donors family in heartfelt reunion
Transplant recipient meets donors family in heartfelt reunion – Jul 31, 2020

“I’m emotionally exhausted but exhilarated and a bit fragile after six months of waiting and not knowing when it would happen,” Robichaud in an interview on Friday.