A Massachusetts toddler has been seen walking out of the hospital for the first time after bravely fighting a deadly lung disease for most of her short life.
Mae Vogel-Koslow was diagnosed with pediatric interstitial lung disease when she was just 4 weeks old, SWNS reported.
Mae, now 2, was born without the ABCH3 gene, which makes protein that lines the lungs and as a result, the little girl struggled to breath on her own. At 6 weeks old, she underwent a tracheotomy.
Mae’s fight to improve continued until September, when she received a double lung transplant. Just three weeks later, she walked out of the hospital.
"When they told us she could come home, it felt unreal," Mae’s mother Courtney Koslow told SWNS. "It was magical to see this thriving little person be so free for the first time in her life."
Cameras captured the touching moment Mae took her first steps outside, with her mothers, Koslow and Maura Vogel, and her 4-year-old sister Rosie, standing by.
“When we were leaving and Mae walked through that door, she hesitated,” Koslow said. “You could tell she was thinking, ‘This is weird.'"
Mae is now thriving and enjoying life as any 2-year-old should, her family said.
"Mae loves being outside," Vogel said. "Any chance she gets, she’s out there running around. We think that her first 20 months spent in hospital has something to do with it."
The family recently took a vacation to visit Vogel’s parents in North Carolina, where Mae wasted no time enjoying the trappings of life.
"There was just no getting her out of the water," Vogel said. "Last year that she was a baby in a hospital crib hooked up to a vent and now she’s swimming in the ocean."
Once forced to fight for her life, Mae’s biggest priority is now more age appropriate.
"She loves dogs even though we don’t have one," Koslow said. “She loves looking at pictures of them. She’s really, really social and great at making friends. Every moment with her is so special to us."
Life since Mae’s transplant has been priceless and made possible by organ donation and the sacrifice of others, which her parents said they will never forget.
"We plan on writing the donor family a letter, which they have access to should they ever want to," Vogel said. "The gift they’ve given Mae and our family is so special, but on the other side of transplant, there is a sadness there because someone has lost a child. We’re aware of that every day."