Melissa Benoit
Melissa Benoit, who was kept alive without lungs for six days before a successful transplant, plays with daughter Olivia, 2, before yesterday's news conference detailing what’s believed to be the world’s first such procedure. (Photo: UHN)

Melissa Benoit gave smiles and shed tears, but most of all she offered thanks.

Surrounded by her family who gave unwavering support and members of the medical team who saved her life, the woman at the centre of a world-first procedure that saw her kept alive for six days without lungs before a successful transplant, paid tribute to all who made this day possible.

"From the bottom of my heart, I have to thank the team, my donor and my family," Melissa, now 33, told a news conference yesterday at Toronto General Hospital detailing the procedure of last spring.

"They pulled me back from the dead."

Melissa, her family and some members of the surgical team that saved her life and made medical history, spent about 90 minutes detailing the procedure and the aftermath of removing both of her infected lungs for six days, allowing her to recover enough to receive a double-lung transplant.

Here are some of the highlights of the news conference:

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee
Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, Surgeon-in-Chief, Sprott Department of Surgery at UHN, Director, Toronto Lung Transplant Program, and one of the three thoracic surgeons who operated together on Melissa to remove both her infected lungs, explains what the medical team did and why. (Photo: UHN)

"It was clear to everybody that this would be her only chance."

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee


Perfusionist Amanda Spriel
Perfusionist Amanda Spriel holds a novalung and explains how it was used to keep Melissa alive before and after her transplant. (Photo: UHN)

"I'm so happy to see you've opened a new chapter of life and you've actually created history. Thank you for your courage."

Nurse Connie Kwan to Melissa Benoit


Melissa’s nurse Connie Kwan

Nurse Connie Kwan of the Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit was part of the team that took care of Melissa before and after the double-lung removal. (Photo: UHN)​

Melissa with mic in front of parents
Melissa Benoit, with her parents (L to R) Sylvio and Sue Dupuis looking on, answers a reporter’s question at yesterday’s news conference at Toronto General Hospital. (Photo: UHN)

"I still don't believe what happened. It feels very surreal."

Melissa Benoit


"It's been an amazing thing to go through and to see her improve."

Melissa's husband, Chris Benoit


"It's a fantastic day."

Melissa's uncle, John Gosselin


Husband with mic and uncle
Melissa’s husband, Chris Benoit, standing, and her uncle, John Gosselin, at yesterday’s news conference. (Photo: UHN)
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