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Boca Raton teen returns to soccer field less than a year after double lung transplant

Posted at 11:38 PM, Dec 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-15 09:37:48-05

Avery Engelman, 18, has hopes of scoring a game winning soccer goal. But about a year ago, her only goal, was to breathe normally.

She was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects her lungs, pancreas and liver.

“I needed to wear 24/7 oxygen just to function," explained Engelman.

Whiles she's always been sick, growing up she still managed to stay active. However, about a year ago things took a turn for the worse when she came down with double pneumonia.

"Walking up stairs was a daily activity for me, like taking a shower," said Engelman.

The medications and treatments weren't working. Her only hope was a double lung transplant.

"It’s heartbreaking to know there is nothing you can do to help them or to know what you can do is not enough," said Avery’s father, Daniel.

Even when she wasn’t sure she could get help, this tough competitor decided to help others by making her difficult journey public on social media.

"I needed people to see what I was actually going through, not for me but for thousands of others out there that are going through the same thing," said Engelman.

Staying positive throughout, Engelman went all the way to St. Louis hoping for a transplant.

Within two months she would get that second chance.

Now, 10 months after her transplant, Engelman is defying the odds. She is playing on the girls Under-19 Division for the Soccer Association of Boca Raton.  Not only is she running, but she is defending goals, and not just on the soccer field.

"I just try to stay positive no matter what the outcome is and stay present in life,” said Engelman.

She has been an advocate for education and a cure her entire life.

Her Facebook page is called “MyJounrey2Breathe.”

Avery said herself, she is still not “out of the woods.” She could still face complications, and there is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis.