04/14/2012 02:20 EDT | Updated 06/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Hélène Campbell: Organ Donation Advocate Takes First Steps After Double Lung Transplant


Hélène Campbell, the 20-year-old Ottawa internet sensation who underwent a double-lung transplant after engaging major celebrities in her organ donation campaign, has taken to Twitter to announce she is breathing on her own after surgery.

"Oh my gosh, what a great day! No more tubes, I can breathe!" she wrote in a Twitter post around 3:40 p.m. ET.

The message added: "LYLT" — an acronym for "love you lung time," which Campbell's mother, Manon, said were among her daughter's last words before she was wheeled in for surgery last week at Toronto General Hospital.

On Saturday, a website set up to document Campbell's progress said she was whispering, but sounds "like Darth Vader with a case of laryngitis." The blog was being managed by her family while she rested.

Campbell's breathing tube was removed on Saturday.

"She was smiling from ear to ear with its removal. She can now whisper, sounding like Darth Vader with a case of laryngitis and has the craziest 'big hair' we've ever seen!" her family wrote on the site.

The viral-video star has been recovering after undergoing seven hours of surgery last week in Toronto.

Earlier in the week, a tweet from her family on the @alungstory Twitter account said Campbell was doing leg exercises in her bed and breathing a little without help from a ventilator. She was also using an alphabet board to communicate with her parents.

She was able to walk briefly twice, according to her website.

'Got up for a 2nd time'

"In the afternoon, Hélène got up for a second time to sit in a chair. After all this hard work, she needed a good night’s sleep," the entry read, adding that noise from hospital equipment and medication to ensure she doesn't reject her new organs have made sleeping difficult.

Campbell's crusade to bring awareness to the need for organ and blood donations caught the attention of celebrities such as teen pop star Justin Bieber and U.S. talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres.

Her campaign started with online videos that quickly went viral. Campbell's Twitter account now has more than 13,000 followers.

Ontario's Trillium Gift of Life Network, which encourages registration for organ donations, has credited Campbell's savvy marketing and her personal appeal for driving up traffic to its website in recent weeks.

Campbell had been waiting for the transplant surgery since last July, when she discovered she had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a degenerative lung disease, after collapsing on a hiking trail. She moved to Toronto with her mother while her father and three siblings remained in the Ottawa area

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