CHICAGO — There was hardly a dry eye as more than a dozen ICU medical staff and others who cared for Colette Hurd amid her stay at Northwestern Memorial Hospital lined the floor for her farewell.

The organ transplant recipient, hospitalized for 422 days, was finally returning home.

“Most of the staff at the hospital, believe it or not, keep me going,” Hurd said.

Colette Hurd being assisted by Northwestern Medical staff. (Photo/WGN)

By Hurd’s side through the entire stay was her husband, Dennis, who wheeled her out of the room and the hospital.

“My husband came to the hospital every day,” Hurd said. “He did not miss a day.”

In May 2020, Hurd was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a rare condition causing high blood pressure in the lungs. Over time, the illness can cause the heart and lungs to become weak, leading to death. 

On May 26, 2021, Hurd was admitted to Northwestern as her lungs were failing.

“She’s been very, very sick,” her doctor Ambalavanan Arunachalam said. “We almost lost her multiple times. This is a very unique situation, which we brought her through.”  

Colette needed a double lung transplant and kidney transplant, which was a first for Northwestern doctors. The surgery was a success and Northwestern doctors have since performed five similar procedures on other patients.

“It opens up the door for them and we have started doing them after her,” Arunachalam said.

Amid Hurd’s extended stay was a surprise vow renewal for her 20th wedding anniversary. Dennis Hurd told WGN News that watching his wife fight for her life gave him a new perspective on his own.

Colette and husband Dennis renew their wedding vows at Northwestern Hospital. (Photo/WGN)

“It’s not about material things,” he said. “It’s just to be with somebody special and I’m that lucky guy.”

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Returning home for the first time in more than a year, Colette Hurd says she is thankful and encourages others to sign up as an organ to gift someone a second chance as someone prior did for her.

“Everybody I see, if I talk to them, I’m going to ask them,” she says, “because it will help them like somebody helped me.”