Lung Transplants Offer New Hope For Some Cystic Fibrosis Patients
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For patients living with a chronic disease, every day can be a struggle. More than 30,000 people in the United States are living with cystic fibrosis.
"I've been in and out of hospitals my whole life," says 38-year-old Chris Fowler, a cystic fibrosis patient fighting every day to beat the odds.
Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic disease where a genetic mutation causes the body to produce unusually thick mucus, most notably affecting the lungs.
"In the lung, where we have a layer of fluid below a layer of mucus secretions, the lack of this layer of fluid makes this mucus very dry and very thick causing destruction of the airway cells and destruction of the lung," says Dr. Jorge Lascano, with UF Health Pulmonary & Critical Care.
The average life expectancy of CF patients is in the mid to late 30's. Even a few decades ago, it was less than 20.
"There is significant progress in the care for CF patients," Lascano says, "Not only because of new therapies coming down the pipeline, but also because of more aggressive care, more detailed care of our patients."
But despite medical advances, a lung transplant is still one of the only things available to CF patients whose symptoms become unmanageable. When Fowler got sick in March of last year, it quickly became clear that a transplant would be the next step. Now, one month out from a successful transplant at UF Health, he has a long road to recovery, but he no longer has cystic fibrosis in his lungs.
"Lung transplants are the only organs that after being transplanted are still exposed to the elements," Dr. Juan Salgado, Fowler's transplant surgeon at UF Health, explains. Because of this, avoiding infection can be difficult.
"It's the most amazing thing ever, I can breathe, I don't need oxygen anymore," Fowler says.
Now he wants to help spread awareness about the importance of organ donation.
"My donor saved my life, if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here today."
April is National Donate Life Month. To learn more about organ donation, visit:
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