Benoit, who was born with cystic fibrosis, already had weak lungs and suffered from bacterial infections on and off for three years. Last February, her health took a drastic turn for the worse when she was diagnosed with swine flu in addition to the bacterial infection. By April, she could barely take a breath due to mucus and blood filling her lungs.
Her infection grew resistant to the strongest antibiotics, and eventually she suffered from septic shock. At the end of April, Benoit's organs started shutting down -- she was on her literal deathbed.
That's when the doctors at Toronto General Hospital knew they had to take a risk to save the young mom's life. Although it had never been performed before, doctors proposed a procedure that would remove both of her lungs and place her in a coma on a life support machine until donor lungs became available.
The machinery had only been used for patients with lung disease, not as a long-term option to keep someone alive. In this case, though, it was certain death or a long-shot attempt at life.