“I know how hard it is for me; I couldn’t even imagine how hard it is for her,” said Smith. “My first thought was, basically, as sick as I am, I could say if my lungs were to come, I would have given up my chance to give her a chance to live.”

Smith’s lungs are ravaged by systemic scleroderma, a rare auto-immune disease that causes scar tissue to build up inside the body. First diagnosed in 1996, she now suffers from pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension, two life-threatening complications, her doctor said.

“She really needs to have a lung transplant,” said Dr. Sergio Jimenez, director of the Scleroderma Center at Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia, who has been treating Smith. “Right now, I think it’s her only chance.”…

“If that was meant for me, then God would have given them to me,” she said, her voice hoarse with the effort of talking. “Maybe God wanted that little girl to have her chance.”