I'm a 42 year old (never smoked, never drank, otherwise healthy) who was nonetheless been diagnosed with late-stage lung disease -- COPD (emphysema
). For those who aren't familiar, this disease destroys your lung tissue at the smallest layer, causing it to stretch out and tear open. This makes it impossible to fully exhale, instead leaving oxygen-deprived and germ-laden air in my lungs all the time. The air then takes up space that new oxygen-rich air should be using when I inhale. At late stages of this disease:
- I needed oxygen to sleep to prevent heart and even possible brain damage
- I needed oxygen when I walk or exercise even at a slow pace.
- I couldn't perform any kind of physical exertion for more than a few seconds.
- I constantly got sick from bacteria and viruses collecting in my lungs.
There is no way to cure COPD or reverse the damage to the lung tissue. The only treatment available to me is a double lung transplant.Fortunately!
After a very short wait, the wonderful lung transplant team at UF Shands Hospital has fitted me with a wonderful (if slightly used) pair of replacement lungs. Unfortunately
, that's not the end of the road, it's just the beginning.
The recovery from transplant, and the lifetime of drugs and procedures that will follow, is very expensive. Chances are I'll need to move out of my house, or make major repairs/improvements to it to stay. Even worse, there is even a chance I will be unable to go back to work afterwards, and will lose my medical insurance.
I plan to use these funds to purchase medical insurance and to pay for the co-pays for temporary housing, drugs and hospital visits that will continue on for the rest of my life. These drugs will help me stay healthy (hopefully, enough to keep working), minimize chance of rejections, and allow me to resume some semblance of my pre-diagnosis life. If needed, I will also use these funds to make improvements to my home to make it safer and healthier for me to live here.
I have always considered myself blessed to have the things that I have, and have always shared those things with people in need. I've prided myself on being able to support myself and my family and
have enough left over to help those who could not. Now, suddenly, I find myself in a position where I'm at the end of my resources, potentially unable to provide for even myself, let alone the others that depend on me. This is a scary place for me to be, even more so knowing that I'll be receiving a very rare and precious gift -- a pair of healthy lungs -- that is in very limited supply.
The single most important goal in my life going forward is to make sure I take care of myself and my new lungs, and never do anything to squander this gift that could have gone to someone else in as much need as me.
Also, this is my dog. Who will take care of my dog if I'm all hurty in my lungs?