Jan Nitti's Stem Cell Transplant

My name is Jan Gnall and in 2002 I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called diffuse systemic sclerosis also known as scleroderma, a chronic and debilitating disease that causes the skin and organs to harden with no cure. In olden times it used to be known as the disease that turned the body to stone.  It all started with my hands being very cold and painful and changing colors.  Soon my hands, forearms and wrists started to harden like a rock and my fingers started to curl.  Ulcers on my fingers  developed due to lack of circulation and breaks in the skin. These ulcers lasted months and caused not only pain but loss of function to my fingers. My elbows developed ulcers and my arms began to shorter from the skin being so hard and tight.  My legs, feet, ankles, tendons and bones were affected which really minimized my ability to move properly and function.  However, I refused to be a victim and tried to do everything I could to manage this chronic disease and the changes to my body and life. Supported by my family and friends, I learned to live within my limitations and tried to have a normal life. I had surgeries to try to straighten my fingers with screws and plastic surgery to create a new elbow with skin grafting and muscle removal .  However, internal organ involvement started with my esophagus, my intestinal tract and most recently my lungs.  Lung involvement leads to impaired breathing and heart issues and in most cases death.
After exhausting basically all medications to relieve the symptoms and/or to try to suppress the progression of the disease, I started to research new and experimental treatments that could give me my life back. Stem cell transplant was brought to my attention and although the mortality rate is high, it  showed amazing results! Skin softening, diminished lung fibrosis and and basically putting the disease to bed was  what I was hearing. So here I am 14 years later and determined to fight back once again and be one of the pioneers in stem cell transplant therapy. However, the cost for stem cell transplant therapy is expensive and my insurance will not cover the entire costs involved, which is why I am trying to raise money not only for medical expenses but for short term care.
My first appointment is scheduled for May 22nd which my hope is to have the transplant by the end of the summer. My life depends on it and if it's successful I will be able to go back to work in the medical field where I can help and advocate for people with chronic illnesses.  
Any support you can give will not only help reach my goal for the transplant but will also help me  give back to others that may need help too.
Thank you, Jan

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Jan Nitti 
Lyndhurst, NJ
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