Sarah Joy Richards is my sister, a writer, and an exceptional human being who has touched many souls in her life. She also has Cystic Fibrosis and needs a double lung and liver transplant. You read that correctly, Sarah needs 2 lungs and 1 liver to replace her failing lungs and liver. She also needs your help, and as her brother I can promise you she is worthy of that help.How We Got Here (Medically):
Sarah was diagnosed at six months with Cystic Fibrosis. It is a genetic disease that causes her body to produce slightly thicker mucus than a normal body. What does that do? First, chronic sinus infections. Sarah has already endured over 90 sinus surgeries culminating in a sinus obliteration surgery at 18 which involved the sinus cavities behind her forehead being scraped clean and filled with fatty tissue. Second, chronic lung infections. Sarah has endured chronic lung infections requiring hospitalization and strong antibiotics since she was 14. She has spent months of her life, including holidays in hospital beds working hard to get healthy. Third, cirrhosis of the liver. Sarah's chronic lung infections require her to take very strong antibiotics often, the side-effect of chronic use of those antibiotics is unfortunately heavy liver damage. The damage to her liver has become so great that it is now failing, Sarah, every other week, must undergo a procedure where a syringe is stuck into her stomach to pull off excess fluid that cannot be processed by her liver. How We got Here (Sarah's Story):
Sarah has Cystic Fibrosis, but that is only one characteristic of an intelligent, ambitious young woman. Despite Sarah's illness she graduated from college with a Bachelors degree in English. Not satisfied, she continued her education, attending Georgia State University for her Masters degree. Unfortunately her declining health caused her to drop out of school at the start of 2018, but she hopes to return and finish her Masters degree once she has fully recovered from her transplant operation. She has also documented her life through a blog called "the Joys of CF" which can be read here: https://sarahjoysofcf.com/
Sarah's ability to write and find the "joys" in CF lead to a very entertaining read and insight in to her strong spirit.
Sarah has a loving family that has supported her throughout, including her fiance Todd who she met in college and her rambunctious dog Evie(or Evil depending on what she is doing). Sarah's parents have been her rock since the very beginning. They have been through everything with Sarah and have taught her the tools to continue to face challenges while also pursuing her dreams. She also has three loving brothers and numerous aunts,uncles, grandparents, cousins, and friends who have helped her along the way, both in the U.S. and Australia.
Sarah has given so much in her life and has been an inspiring person for so many but she still has so much more to give and so many more lives to touch. She has enjoyed life, in all its little details. She loves Harry Potter, I Love Lucy, the Golden Girls, and every single movie that comes on TCM. She is classy and courageous with wit beyond measure and the warmest heart. The Road Ahead:
At present, Sarah's lungs and liver functions have deteriorated to the point of needing transplants. She recently traveled to Duke University Hospital for a week where she was put through tests and evaluations of her condition to approve her for transplant, she passed and is ready to begin the process.
The process of a double lung and liver transplant is long and arduous. Sarah and my mother Pam Richards will need to live in Durham, North Carolina next to the hospital for months before and after transplant surgery. Per her transplant team at Duke, a specific timetable cannot be given because of the several unknowns surrounding when she will get suitable organs and how her recovery will progress. We have been told to prepare for at least 10 months post surgery and because Sarah needs lungs and a liver, her wait on the transplant list will likely be longer. All together, a full year away from her home, family, friends, and pets in a different city during the hardest time of her life is likely.
That is all without considering the surgery itself, if you are squeamish now is the time to skip ahead to the next section. Sarah's surgery will require two large incisions across her chest and abdomen. The surgeon will first replace her liver so hopefully the healthy liver can produce the clotting factors Sarah's current liver can't. Once the liver is replaced, Her chest will essentially be cut in half and quoting the surgeon, "raised up like the hood of car" to replace her lungs. She will be on a ventilator post surgery and, despite this, will have to force herself to stand and walk only two days after the surgery so her new lungs have room to fill with air. In the words of Sarah "it's gonna be one hell of a wake up" when she comes out of surgery.Where You Come In:
Insurance will cover 80% of Sarah's transplant surgery cost and Medicare will help but the price tag of a double lung and liver transplant is over 1 million dollars and insurance pays nothing towards living expenses. Me, my family, and Sarah hope that you will donate anything you can towards the cost of living and other expenses of this surgery. Duke has estimated we need to raise at least $35,000. A big number to be sure, but every bit of the money you all donate will go towards keeping a bright star in this world shining. We all thank you so much for anything you can provide and hope to one day be able to pay your kindness forward. To be clear, every penny donated will go to Sarah's recovery, housing, food, and expenses including her medical bills as she will be on very expensive medicine for the rest of her life to prevent her body from rejecting her new organs.
Thank you all again for your kindness and compassion!