Sara Murray of Acton received a second chance at life three years ago when she underwent a double lung transplant. After her recovery she threw herself back into her fitness program and even became a certified personal trainer at X-treme Fitness where she is seen here working out. The young woman recently won three gold medals and a bronze at the Canadian Transplant Games in Edmonton.
Three years ago Sara Murray's lungs were so badly damaged from cystic fibrosis they were only functioning at 10 per cent capacity and she was told she had less than a year to live. Her name was moved up to the top of the transplant list, and 11 days later the young Acton woman received a new pair of healthy lungs-- a gift that has given her a second chance at life and that she has put to good use every day since-- most recently at the Canadian Transplant Games in Edmonton where she won three gold medals and a bronze. Murray, now 29, won the gold for race walking, ball throw and shot put, and a bronze in volleyball. She didn't train specifically for the events she participated in, but instead relied on her high fitness level to carry her through. She had never done either shot put or race walking before the games. Murray enjoyed the opportunity to participate with the 300 other transplant patients at the games held August 8 to 13. "It was neat to see that many who are active. They've worked out and got in really good shape," said Murray. "It wasn't what's your name, it was what are you, heart or liver? We all compared scars and surgery stories." The difference in Murray's life after her transplant has been remarkable. Acton's Sara Murray captured gold in the shot put event at the recent Canadian Transplant Games in Edmonton. Submitted photo She said she's never, ever felt this good, however she still does take anti-rejection drugs and is always vigilant about staying away from people who are sick because she does have a higher risk for infection. Before the surgery, with her seriously diminished lung capacity, it took all her energy to just get out of bed to watch television. Today she is full of energy, fit, healthy, recently married and has a lung capacity of 108 per cent. "They love it," she said when asked what her doctors' reaction is to how well she's doing. After recovering from the 10-hour transplant surgery she went back to her job as an architectural technologist, but she only lasted three months. "It wasn't me anymore. I couldn't rationalize being given these lungs and having all this energy and sitting behind a desk all day." Murray said she knew she had been left here for some reason and asked herself "what's my purpose." She said she took some courses to see if she could figure out the answer, and in the meantime she continued enjoying her new-found health and energy and working out, something she had loved doing even before her lungs became so damaged. Friends and family had encouraged her to follow her passion and become a personal trainer, but it wasn't until this January that she finally decided to do it. She received her certification and now works at X-treme Fitness in Acton. "It's nice because you can help people and I don't have to take excuses. I say, `only you put limitations on yourself.'" She is grateful to the young woman's family for the donation of her lungs and, although she doesn't know who the family is, she has written them through the Trillium Gift of Life Network to thank them and recently received a Christmas card from the family. Murray also takes every opportunity she can to speak about the importance of organ donation. More information about organ and tissue and donation can be obtained at the network at www.giftoflife.on.ca, or by calling 1-800263-2833.