Eleven years ago, Jennifer Jones’ life changed forever when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The genetic disease produces a thick mucus in the respiratory system, causing lung infections and making it difficult to breathe over time.
In October 2017, Jones received a donation that would change her life forever: a new set of lungs from an anonymous donor. Just moments after surgery, the Minnesota woman was able to breathe on her own — no oxygen tanks or anything! — for the first time in years. Her fiancé caught the moment she took her first unassisted breath on video, and you’ve got to see it to realize just how miraculous it was.
The video was posted to YouTube and has made the rounds online, racking in over 1.5 million views. It’s hard to describe exactly how watching her reaction will make you feel — but it’s fairly safe to say it’ll have you appreciating the little things in life afterwards.
See the incredible moment play out for yourself:
Since the surgery in October, Jones and her fiancé Rob Ronnenberg have posted updates about her progress. From her first steps four days after her lung transplant to a very special message on National Donor Day, the couple is allowing the online world a glimpse into what life is like after receiving an organ donation.
In the video for National Donor Day, Jones recalled what it was like taking that first unassisted breath from her hospital bed.
“I remember taking that first breath,” she said. “I was afraid. I was afraid that the lungs weren’t going to work. You have all of these fears going through your head. But I took this breath, and it was so unbelievably incredible.”
She continued, laughing, “It took my breath away, pretty much!”
In the same update video, Ronnenberg explained the intention behind filming this moment in the first place.
“She had just come out of surgery, and she was pretty heavily medicated still, so I wanted her to be able to see it one day,” he said. “All of the attention [the video has received], it’s not about Jennifer. It’s not about us. It’s about the donor family. It’s about their gift. So, I hope that we will one day be able to share that video with them, as well.”
The couple is dedicated to raising awareness about cystic fibrosis. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, more than 30,000 people in the U.S. are currently living with the disease.
More than just raising awareness about Jones’ disease, they want to stress the importance of organ donation.
“This has definitely been very special to me, and it will always be my miracle. But it’ll be their legacy,” Jones said. They also encouraged others to register to be organ donate: “Please register and talk to others about donating your organs.”
You can find out more about registering as an organ donor on the official Organ Donor Registry website.