FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – In 2002, Julie Braun was 44 years old and a mother of three children. She began noticing that doing everyday tasks like showering was becoming more difficult.

That was when Braun was diagnosed with a form of pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that damages the tissue in a person’s lungs and makes it harder for them to work properly, causing shortness of breath.

It began to result in her missing out on her children’s activities and having exhaustion more often.

Her father died of the same disease in 1984 and she said there was potential that her getting the disease was hereditary.

A year later, doctors told her she would need to receive a double lung transplant in order to survive.

In May 2004, doctors were able to find an organ donor and she had her transplant done at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. She returned home after eight days in the hospital.

“This was life changing. I wouldn’t be here right now,” Braun said.

Her lung transplant let her witness her two youngest children graduate high school and college and later on get married.

After her surgery, Braun experienced some episodes of rejection and an infection, but received treatment for it.

As the years have gone by, she hasn’t experienced any new issues come up and has been able to live a happy, normal life.

Today, at age 64, Braun is now spending her time babysitting young children and is involved with local organ donor groups.

“I feel very fortunate when I hear stories from other people who have received organ transplants,” she said.

She volunteers with the Indiana Donor Network and works as an advocate for the organization. She has spoken at churches and health fairs about her experience and why people should become organ donors.

“Donating organ can change other people’s lives. It’s a grateful gift to other families knowing someone is willing to donate organs or tissue to save another person’s life,” she added.