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'I've learned that I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was.' | Teen with cystic fibrosis determined in recovery after double lung transplant

Hannah Goetz is determined as she continues her recovery. Through it all, she's learned that she's a lot stronger than she thought.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — In ripped jeans and a Godfather sweatshirt, her arms reaching for the sky, Hannah Goetz is determined to rock her road to recovery. 

"I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm seeing what I'll be able to do because I'm seeing improvements every day," Hannah told me. 

Some very dark days for Hannah began in June shortly after she graduated from Smithfield High School. A Caribbean cruise with family was planned to celebrate the milestone, but toward the end of the trip, Hannah became ill.  

At Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, she was diagnosed with flu and pneumonia. Her lungs filled with fluid. Hannah would battle sepsis and blood clots. Her condition was complicated by her Cystic Fibrosis.  

She was so ill she was rushed to a hospital in Northern Virginia to wait for a double lung transplant. Much of it was a blur, she says. 

"I remember bits and pieces. I can remember people talking. I could see but my eyes were closed," Hannah recalls. 

Doctors would make a rare decision to remove Hannah's lungs and let a machine breath for her. Fours days later a donor was found. 

Hannah would spend three weeks in a medically-induced coma.    

What was it like taking some of those first deep breaths with her new lungs?

"Well, it hurt but it was a good feeling to know that I have these and that I can breathe," Hannah told me.

Recently Hannah said goodbye to her doctors and nurses at Inova Hospital.

At the Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church, she will work to strengthen her new lungs and her muscles and sharpen her memory before heading home. 

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What has Hannah learned about herself after all she's been through?  

"I've learned that I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was, and I've learned that I want to explore and travel and do more things," Hannah said, adding she wants to live life a bit on the edge.  

"I want to go Skydiving," she said, and to continue playing soccer in the Transplant Olympics and someday be a trauma nurse, she added.

So where does Hannah get her strength? 

"Well, first within myself I find strength, and then...everyone rooting for me back home, and encouraging me. I think I want to be strong for them because they were doing so much for me," she said.

For all she's been through, the surgeries and the uncertainty, Hannah said she's still the same positive person she always was. 

As for whether she sees herself as an inspiration for others, Hannah said if she's raised awareness about Cystic Fibrosis, that's a good thing. If her story's moved people to become organ donors, even better.  

"People are grateful beyond words. There is no way to thank someone who gives you life, you know. It's just a great thing," Hannah said.   

Hannah still has her sense of humor. She's picked up a pretty big scar on her leg in this process. She said she wants to show it off by dressing up for Halloween as a shark-bite victim. 

As with any illness, recovery is expected to come with ups and downs. Monday night, Hannah was back in the hospital due to some complications, but doctors are optimistic that she'll only be there for a few days.