Travis' Double Lung Transplant Fund

$35,979 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 215 people in 6 months
Created August 5, 2017
When Travis woke up with a sore throat last December, he had no idea it would be the beginning of a life threatening condition. By mid-January, after weeks of coughing and feeling ill, Travis started to feel worse and decided to heed Emily’s advice and made an appointment with his doctor.

Travis was tested for COPD and asthma with negative results for each. After a week of antibiotics and steroids, he was still getting worse. This time the doctor took x-rays and said he had walking pneumonia and that Travis needed to take another antibiotic and rest. A week later, Travis was still declining, losing weight, and having trouble catching his breath. On Valentine’s Day, my sister, Emily, took Travis to the emergency room. It was time for some answers.

At the ER, the doctor ordered a high contrast CT scan and x-rays and said it looked like Interstitial Lung Disease. Travis was given an IV dose of steroids, more antibiotics, and told to see a pulmonologist. Three days later, his 40th birthday, Travis was scheduled for surgery to have a lung biopsy done. The results pointed to Interstitial Lung Disease again.

What is Interstitial Lung Disease?
We were all wondering the same thing.

Interstitial Lung Disease is a term used to describe many disorders that cause scarring on the lung tissue. Exposure to hazardous materials, autoimmune disorders, and sometimes unknown factors cause this disease and damage to the lungs. Eventually, the scarring affects your ability to breathe which causes a decrease in oxygen in your bloodstream. This is why Travis continued to be increasingly out of breath. He literally was not getting enough oxygen.

At this point Travis was referred to the MUSC Lung Transplant Clinic in Charleston for transplant evaluation. A double lung transplant. I think that is when everything started to get real for everyone. This was serious and it was not going away. More so, the MUSC appointment was three months out. I feel like everyone was holding their breath and hoping and praying the diagnosis would be different. Travis was prescribed oxygen around the clock while he waited to see the new team of doctors.

By the grace of God, Travis’ appointment with the MUSC Lung Transplant Unit got moved up sooner. My maternal grandparents live in North Charleston, so Emily and Travis have stayed with them off and on during their visits to MUSC.

There has been a tremendous amount of waiting and unknowns during this journey. I have seen Travis with a smile on his face and a ‘do-what-I-gotta-do’ attitude. It would be so easy to fall into despair and want to give up, but he keeps going…keeps looking up. My sister has remained steadfast and trusting in God even though none of this makes any sense. The entire Gibson family needs your prayer and support!

After pulmonary function tests, another type of biopsy, and another month of waiting, Em and Travis headed back to MUSC for test results. The doctors told them Travis had Cryptogenic Organizing Pneumonia… one of those diseases that falls into the Interstitial Lung Disease category. The disease had caused severe damage to both of Travis’ lungs. He was given a very high dose of steroids, a strong antibiotic, an immunosuppressant and told it would take at least three months of the medications to see any improvement if there was going to be improvement at all. After more waiting and pulmonary function tests, no improvement was seen. The doctors told Travis to start pulmonary rehab that included weight loss and strength training. If Travis does need the transplant, he will not be able to move his arms for eight weeks after surgery in order to give his sternum time to heal. Some patients have ended up having to have metal plates put in their chest as a result of arm use too soon after surgery.  

Travis and Emily headed back to Charleston at the very end of May for a week of lung transplant testing and evaluation. An entire week. I spoke with my sister a couple times during this week for updates and I was exhausted just listening to all the plethora of tests Travis had to undergo each day. I know it completely wore him out.

Here is a note from his persective:

I am typing this after the fifth day of transplant evaluation. My body and mind have been put through the ringer over the last five days. Medicine is not working, so a lung transplant is the only option. I knew I should not have asked the following question because most likely the answer would not be good, but I needed to know. “How long can I live if I do not get new lungs?” The response “less than a year.” At this point, I just wanted to break down and cry. Who wants to think about their wife being a widow and their three glorious children growing up without a father? I took a second to close my eyes and imagine walking my daughters down the aisle on their wedding days and playing baseball with my son. Life changed at that moment. I knew in the back of my mind that this disease was bad, but did not honestly think it could kill me while only 41 years old. So here I sit explaining the last seven months of this journey hoping and praying we are able to come up with the necessary funds in order to be put on the national transplant registry.

For three months after the transplant Travis will have to live within ten minutes of MUSC for continuing care and as a precaution in the event that a complication develops. That is three months of not working, three months of regular home and life expenses, and three months of an additional apartment or house rental and expenses. Emily and Travis have to have $15,000 available just to be able to be put on the transplant list. Lung matches do not typically take very long since they are matched based on height and blood type, so fundraising needs to happen fast.

In addition to the $15,000 upfront, there will be post transplant medication and follow-up procedures. Travis will need to take 30 pills each day to make sure his body does not reject the new lungs. The first year after a double lung transplant is crucial. He must be a compliant patient and focus on getting well. Emily will be his caregiver and have to do pretty much everything for him especially in those first eight weeks when arm movement is restricted. This entire ordeal is stressful for the whole family. They will all need help and support in every way. Help me alleviate the financial strain so Travis can get his new lungs as soon as possible.

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Here is an update from yesterday afternoon. This video was live on Facebook:


After arriving at MUSC, the doctors decided the lungs were not good enough to do the surgery.


After waiting on traffic to clear a little and eating dinner in the hospital cafeteria, Travis was told there was a chance a different pair of lungs could come to him. They wouldn't know anything until after midnight Tuesday night. Em and Travis went to stay at Em's grandparents' house in North Charleston and headed home today. Someone else received those lungs last night. please pray for them and both donor families.

Please continue to pray for the perfect lungs for Travis!

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Here we are the first week of December. We apologize for the delay in updates, it has almost been depressing having to update everyone with no good news. So many things to report.

First, we have the monthly checkup this Friday so we may have some news then. We will keep you posted.

Second, we had a lovely family Christmas this past Sunday. We had planned to celebrate early with the kids in case we are in Charleston for Christmas. We will celebrate Advent along the way until we get the call. The children were so excited and it was a wonderful family day!

Thirdly, we received word from the clinic on Wednesday last week about this temporary change to the law regarding organ allocation. It is a long story (you can read the story at the link below) but the gist of it is that before MUSC, being the only transplant clinic in the state of SC, received all organs in the state first and then it dispersed out. And the others similarly divvyed by region. This was great for their patients, having only an average of 16-18 patients a year they almost all received their lungs within 6 months of listing. Great news for us! BUT, now the list is checked within a 250-mile radius from the donor hospital, and the patient goes there. So, this means that Emory, Duke, Mayo in Jacksonville, etc. all overlap this radius. Essentially, we could be forced to go to a different clinic for this life-changing surgery. New doctors, new staff, new facility, new everything! And then live there afterward…most clinics require you see them post-transplant for at least 1 year. This news was just too much to hear last week. I cried. It’s frustrating and scary, and adds so much more stress and unknowns.


After I cried and Travis got angry we gave it to God. There is nothing we can do but lay these burdens down at His feet. He has the answers and the Plan! We would like to see a glimpse of it soon, though!

The appointment Friday may give us more answers – the clinics only were given word when it went into effect on the 24th of November. No one is certain how this will affect all of the patients and the clinics.

Once again, we are asking for your prayers. We still have the insurance company change looming on January 1. And if he has not had the transplant by then we have no clue what it will look like. Thank you all for your support and love. God’s grace is enough.​
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We have officially been listed for 4 weeks today! It has been the slowest and most anxious month of our lives, with each of us tied to the phone, and wondering if the call will come. But we are grateful for the extra time as a family.

The month has been full. Travis has decided the “Pay it Forward” and raise money and participate in various local charity walks. He has put 2 different teams together, one for the Miracle Mile Walk and one for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s #walk2endalz. As long as he is able, he will continue to do this, so join a team or let us know if you have an event and we will participate!

We had the monthly check-up last Friday, and all was the same. The doctor did inform us that they had a couple offers (matches) for Travis, but one set of lungs was too small and the other was not in good shape. So as strange as that sounds, it is a little reassuring, that there are at least matches for him, given the blood type, size and his antibodies.

He has had a little cold, and while on the active transplant list we have to let the doctors know as soon as he has even a sniffle. They swab his nose and test for 16 different viruses, 8 of which will require inactivation on the list, at least temporarily. If they were to transplant him with one of these viruses it could cause rejection immediately, and death. No playing around!

So, he currently has rhinovirus, the common cold, but the past couple days his symptoms are worsening. We are hoping it is nothing new, but waiting on the doctors to decide the proper action. Most likely they will be having us see the pulmonologist here to swab his nose and check everything out. His breathing has definitely been worse the last 2-3 days. We will keep you all posted, and please pray that the deactivation lasts only a short time if it happens.

On another note, it looks like we will be having some insurance changes coming in January, and we are waiting to see how this will affect the surgery. Our doctor feels that Travis should be transplanted prior to this, so we are hoping! But the medicine coverage will definitely affect us, and our cost will be significant for all the medications he will be on post-transplant. We appreciate continued prayers for this area too.

Thank you all for your continuous love, prayers, support and encouragement. Once again, we would not be able to get through this struggle without your support! You are each in our prayers.

Thank you and God bless you.
Team Travis!
Travis walking with his twin, Andrew
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Travis has been activated on the transplant list! After months of the unknown and the agonizing wait, it is actually happening. And now I want to go back to just waiting. Not exactly, but the level of stress and anxiety that accompanies the waiting for “the call” is so much more intense than the previous eternity of Wait. Now our phones must remain on, ringer up, all the time. Every unknown number must be answered, just in case. I have found myself holding my breath every time Travis answers his phone. It is intense!

We have our go bags packed and ready, and have gotten arrangements made as best we can in the event of the surgery. And now we wait and pray. But there is a clear path and a glimmer of light at the end of it. Praise God!

We would not be at this place without all of your support, both spiritually and financially. Truly words cannot express how grateful we are for each of you, your love and generosity. Your prayers have sustained us. As we go forward I ask for your continued prayers, especially for the children – they have to be away from Travis for at least 6 weeks, possibly longer.

And I have another very important prayer request. A friend reminded me this week. We need to pray for the donor and his/her family. Their lungs will be giving life to Travis, a great sacrifice. Please pray, for peace and that God blesses the donor and their family abundantly, for whom we will be so thankful!

Thank you all again for your continued love and support! We will keep you updated as we go forward on this crazy transplant journey.

Emily & Travis
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$35,979 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 215 people in 6 months
Created August 5, 2017
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