On list for new lungs, Tracey-Lee's transplant wait begins

HIGH HOPES: Tracey-Lee Schuhmacher, pictured with her fiance Jay Gardiner, has been put on the transplant list and will move to Sydney in January. Photo Adam Hourigan
HIGH HOPES: Tracey-Lee Schuhmacher, pictured with her fiance Jay Gardiner, has been put on the transplant list and will move to Sydney in January. Photo Adam Hourigan

THE white walls of the intensive care unit have become far too familiar for 22-year-old Tracey-Lee Schuhmacher, who has had a new set of lungs on her Christmas wish list more than once.

Twenty hospital admissions in two years is enough to dampen anyone's spirits, but for this little pocket rocket it's been some much-deserved good news this festive season.

After her most recent round of tests in Sydney, where she spent almost three weeks hooked up to machines and with tubes coming from everywhere, she received the news she had been waiting for.

"I am officially on the transplant list," Tracey said.

"It is just such a relief because I have been so sick the past two years. So when I found out I just cried and cried."

With her father Graeme Schuhmacher by her side, it was the best news this Grafton girl, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, could have hoped for.

"I was telling everyone about it on Monday when they said I would hopefully be on the list," she said.

"But then I met with the surgeon on Tuesday and she said, 'Yes, I'm happy with that, you're on the list'."

In the same breath, Tracey was shouting from the roof tops some other great news.

Her now-fiance Jay Gardiner popped the question - along with a hot pink ring - the day she went down to Sydney for her testing.

"I was so sick and had all my bags packed ready to go and then Jay and my brother disappeared somewhere and I was like where are they? I have to go or I will miss my plane," Tracey said.

"Then Jay came barging through the door and ran into my room and was calling me to go in and help him find his wallet.

"When I turned around he was down on one knee."

While she had her suspicions he was going to ask her to marry him, she had no idea it was happening that day.

"I thought he was going to break up with me because he had been acting weird the night before - I think just trying to keep his cool about it," Tracey said.

Jay and Tracey are set to pack their bags and move to Sydney early next year to be closer to the hospital as she awaits the call that there is a set of lungs for her.

The couple is now looking for a unit, and Jay has work lined up with one of Tracey's cousins. "I just can't believe it's all falling into place finally," she said.

Topics:  cystic fibrosis editors picks lung transplant medical

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