Community rallies together to welcome home young girl after lung transplant

It was an exciting Wednesday morning in Visalia as the community welcomed home an 11-year-old girl who recently had a double lung transplant.

Family, friends and the community lined the street for short parade.

Lizzy Highstreet, who recently received the transplant, was escorted by the Visalia Fire Department and on the sidewalk everyone cheering her on.

This was all a surprise for her.

Highstreet was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was a baby.

She is excited to be back home with her family and breathing a little bit easier.

"Cystic Fibrosis is where your pancreas doesn't digest food all the way, which makes everything else in your body, like the gunk in your lungs stickier. So mine they just got really sticky I couldn't clear them out with coughing or doing my treatments," she explained.

Lizzy and her family tried not let Cystic Fibrosis define her but a couple of years ago her lung function started to rapidly decline.

In June of 2018, she was airlifted to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford and placed in the Intensive Care Unit.

"After a week on a ventilator in the ICU, the doctor suggested switching Lizzy to VV neck ECMO (life support) to help sustain her till she was listed for transplant. On June 18 Lizzy was officially listed on the pediatric lung transplant list and on June 20 she was listed on the adolescent young small adults list," the family said.

On the morning of July 17, the Highstreet family got word that Lizzy had a match and would be receiving her lung transplant late in the evening.

"We were kind of at our lowest low at that point and the doctor came in and said 'We have an offer for a lung transplant'. We were overjoyed and ever since that day on July 18th she's been making steps, better and better and better," said Aaron Highstreet, who is Lizzy's father.

The family explained in the days following Lzzy's transplant she needed 60 units of blood.

They added 56 People from all over California(mostly the Valley) with O+ and O- blood drove to Stanford to donate blood.

After a few more weeks in the hospital, she was finally released but would still have several visits for a checkup. They had to stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

Lizzy and her family are thankful for all the support from the community as well as the family who donated the lungs.

"In their darkest hour it really helped our family and bring us back Lizzy so we are super thankful," said Olivia Highstreet, who is Lizzy's older sister.

Her dad added, "Thank you to God for this special gift, our baby girl gets to breathe easy again and for the family that donated, thank you so much".

Cystic Fibrosis impacts thousands of Americans.

Lizzy said turning to her faith helped her during this time and would encourage others to do to the same.

"Have faith in God that he will be beside," Lizzy said.

Olivia added she cannot wait to sit down and watch Hallmark movies with her sister.

"It's unreal, honestly," she said. "At some points, we didn't think we would get to this point. So just having her here in our house and living with us is just amazing".
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