57-year-old woman opens up about trachea transplant

Doctors at Mount Sinai Head and Neck Institute performed the world’s first successful trachea transplant on Sonia Sein after she suffered a life-threatening asthma attack.
3:53 | 04/06/21

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Transcript for 57-year-old woman opens up about trachea transplant
We turn to a medical breakthrough. The world's first successful trachea transplant. The surgery changed the life of a mom who nearly lost her life to an asthma attack. Will reeve is back with this "Gma" exclusive. Hey, will. Reporter: Hey, George. Good morning, Sonia is full of life. But just a year ago she was too ill to play with her granddaughter and worried for her life every time she went to sleep. But thanks to a revolutionary transplant she is enjoying living every second. Six years ago 57-year-old Sonia suffered a life-threatening asthma attack. Eroctors forced to intubate in the process damaging her vocal cords and her trachea, essential for speaking, breathing and normal lung function. Sonia was left with a windpipe damaged and scarred and had trouble breathing and every time she went to bed she feared she would suffocate. Today medical procedures have left her with a temporary hole in her windpipe. She needs to cover it in order to speak. I think I lived more in the hospital than I did at home. I wasn't able to do running, going to the beach, laughing, dancing. Reporter: All these things that make life worth living, you couldn't do. I started putting paperwork in to just go into hospice to let me go in peace. There's thousands that die every year because of these defects in their airway and we have struggled for well over a half sent are I to try to find a way to remedy it. Reporter: After years of work mt. Sinai head and neck surgeon Dr. Eric gen. Den developed that. A trachea transplant never done successfully because doctors couldn't get blood to flow to the new organ except now. She jumped at the chance. I told them I only want five minutes to breathe. That's it. Reporter: To you the simplest thing the most essential thing, you just wanted five minutes of it. If you can give me five minutes of me getting that good breath in, you've made my life complete. Reporter: The phone call came in January. They had found a donor. I told my daughters, we need to drop on our knee, I said we got to thank the family and the donor because they are giving back your mother. Reporter: With 50 people involved over 18 hours, Sonia went in for surgery on January 13th. There were many, many opportunities for things not to go well. It's kind of like all the stars aligned to get this done so it was really a special 18 hours. Reporter: When Sonia woke up she was breathing. And overcome with emotion. Did breathing in that oxygen like you had wished "For life" ars feel even better than you imagined? It was, oh, yeah, it felt like the whole universe went inside of me and said, yeah, accept it and I was just so Reporter: Now three months later Sonia is doing great. Her body showing no signs of rejection and doctors will soon close up the hole in her neck so she can speak freely. She has paved the way for thousands of patients who really had no hope. It was her bravery and her belief in us to step forward and do this. Reporter: There's just one thing left for Sonia to do. All I want to do is walk on the beach. Because they told me I could never do it again. I want to be able to just walk and say, see, I did it. Reporter: Mt. Sinai launched a trachea transplant program and the doctor is look for more recipients like Sonia. Sonia is going to head to the beach soon and she'll send us pictures, George. And we will show em. So happy for her. Okay, women, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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