TORONTO - An Ottawa woman whose high-profile pitch for organ donation has tugged at celebrity heartstrings took a big leap foward Saturday in her own personal battle for survival.
Helene Campbell was able to breathe on her own for the first time after undergoing a double lung transplant this month.
"Oh my gosh, what a great day! No more tubes, I can breathe!," Campbell posted on her Twitter account Saturday.
Campbell's campaign to promote organ donation propelled the 20-year-old into the spotlight this year after celebrities like pop star Justin Bieber endorsed her efforts.
She appeared on Ellen DeGeneres's daytime talk show via Skype and has been invited to return in person once she recovers.
Social media has played a key role in advancing her cause and she has earned legions of followers on Twitter.
Campbell started raising awareness of organ donation after being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which requires a transplant.
She received new lungs on April 7 after her condition took a turn for the worse and has slowly been recovering since then.
Doctors made the decision Saturday to remove a breathing tube, her parents Alan and Manon Campbell posted on a website Helene set up to promote her cause.
"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!," the Campbells posted.
Earlier, the Campbells indicated Helene took her first steps on Thursday and managed to sit in a chair.
However, they said she remains in intensive care at Toronto General Hospital where she is recovering and struggles to sleep due to the noise and the effects of her anti-rejection drugs.
They say it's their hope she eventually "adjusts and gets good sleep."
Well-wishers were quick to respond on Twitter Saturday, including the television host son of a former prime minister.
"So happy to hear you're ok Helene," Ben Mulroney, co-host of CTV's "eTalk", tweeted.