Health & Wellness

'I have a new beginning': Teen gets life-saving donation from unexpected place

Angelynn Luckadoo believes she was given a new life — thanks to a remarkable turn of events as she fought to live.

The 14-year-old suffers from cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening condition that severely limits her ability to breathe.

In December 2014, after months of noticing a rapid decline in her lung function, she was admitted to the UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. While there, doctors had no choice but to place her on ECMO, a type of bypass machine to take over the work her heart and lungs were unable to do.

"There were moments that I didn't believe I was worthy or anything," Luckadoo told TODAY. "It was hard to keep a mental strongness, but it's because I had my family and the supporters and all the prayers, my friends, I was able to maintain my mental strongness."

RELATED: Dad captures son's emotions on video after teen wakes from successful heart transplant

The rigorous treatment to save Angelynn's lungs cause irreversible damage to her heart, meaning she not only needed a double lung transplant, but she needed a new heart too.

Angelynn Luckado with her mother, Dovie Luckado.

"It was hard because we needed somebody — you can't give your heart and live and you can't give your lungs and live," Dovie Luckado, Angelynn's mom, told TODAY. "We had to wait on somebody else's family to lose for us to gain a chance at Angelynn living."

After waiting 95 days on the organ transplant list, she finally got a match in November from the most unexpected place.

Courtney Harris, a 26-year-old woman also from Alabama, was living with hydrocephalus, a potentially fatal brain condition, which took her life on Nov. 10. Courtney's' organs were a perfect match for Angelynn.

In a bizarre twist of fate, Courtney's aunt attended the same church as Angelynn's grandfather and the Harris family had already been praying for Angelynn for years.

Courtney Harris and her parents.

RELATED: Illinois man makes life-saving liver donation to woman, sparking a romance

"No matter how close I came to losing a child, I still don't know how that feels," Dovie said. "All I can kinda do is hope that the fact that Angelynn is doing well, you know, eases their loss a little bit, you know."

Courtney's husband, Allen Harris, admitted that Angelynn is the one thing getting him through the grieving process. Courtney's decision to donate didn't only benefit Angelynn, but she also helped more than 100 other people through her donations of organs and soft tissue.

Angelynn's oxygen level is higher than it's ever been and she's now able to breathe on her own.

"I'm gonna live it to the fullest for me and Courtney," Angelynn said. "I've got a new guardian angel and now that I have her heart and her lungs, I have a new beginning, which is like a second chance. I have a new life to live."

TOP