The stress of waiting for a lung transplant sparked a 24-year-old patient’s desire to raise awareness for a complicated disease.

Mallory Smith, who has cystic fibrosis and is on the waiting list for a pair of lungs, started the “Lunges4Lungs” campaign along with her friends.

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As Smith tries to raise money, she is currently in the midst of a waiting game. She has already had three false alarms for new lungs.

The main transplant surgeon assigned to Smith’s case at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said the nature of the disease puts many patients on the transplant list.

“Over time, patients get chronic infections and they get progressive injury to the lungs such that they fail,” Dr. Jonathan D’Cunha told Fox News.

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This genetic disease causes a thick, sticky buildup of mucus throughout various organs, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

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Smith said life on the transplant list is a combination of being ready for surgery at any moment and expecting to wait for years. But she said the battle doesn’t end there for patients with the disease.

“You’re trading one disease for another. You’re trading having CF to being immune-compromised,” Smith told Fox News.

Smith said she won’t lose hope as she waits for her double lung transplant.

Complications associated with a lung transplant can sometimes be fatal, according to the Mayo Clinic. A patient could experience the body’s immune system attacking the new lungs or the risk of a major infection.

Smith’s failing lungs have a resistant strain of bacteria that could increase the risk of infection in new lungs. New research could help bolster the long-term survival rate for patients.

“If you can cure chronic rejection and the things that lead to that, or understand it in some way, that’s really the holy grail of transplantation,” D’Cunha said.

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Until then, Smith said she won’t lose hope as she waits for her double lung transplant. “Live your life day to day and try to enjoy it.” she said.

Michelle Chavez is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in Pittsburgh. This Fox News piece is used by permission.

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