By Madison Galloway
Four years ago today, on November 16, 2013, I got a call that would change my life forever. A call with another voice on the line saying, “The lungs are here.”
When I was born, the doctors noticed something strange about my behavior. I was coughing up a sticky, green substance and not eating. Two weeks later, I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease which causes a sticky tar-like mucus buildup in the lungs and a decrease in pancreatic enzymes. Many different organs and aspects are impacted as well like the lungs, pancreas, sinuses, kidneys, liver, and stomach. For me, it was all of the above but in sections.
Since a baby, stomach issues like bowel obstructions were no stranger to me. Just another part of my intestines were blocked… again. I needed to take extra enzymes before meals in order to digest my food. Then came the next part of my life, my lungs.
When my lungs went bad in third grade, my stomach problems stopped. I developed the flu and had to be put in the hospital for two weeks. After coming home, a week later I was back in with pneumonia. That was the one that tied me down with an oxygen tank. I continuously developed diseases along the way, including MRSA, Canada, Pseudomonas and more.
I was struggling but stable until sixth grade.
My doctors and I have always been talking about a lung transplant so I attended physical therapy so I could recover faster.
After the first week of sixth grade Monday night, I went to physical therapy and as I was doing the leg press, I felt a pull. Initially, I thought I pulled a muscle until I couldn't breathe. After going home to get my oxygen tank, we went to York Hospital and I was diagnosed with pneumothorax.
A pneumothorax is when your lung tears and collapses. It was my left lung that went. They transferred me to Hershey Medical Center and I went into emergency surgery for several chest tubes. I ended up with sixteen total.
After 10 days, I was told there was nothing else that could be done for me. So to the Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia I went on Sept. 3. I remember being in my room and immediately passing out before being put on a ventilator September fourth after my second pneumothorax. Two weeks later I needed a trachea to be placed on the ventilator.
Then when things took a turn I was given a choice. Take a 4% chance of survival against 0% with Ecmo. Ecmo takes out your blood, cleans it, and oxygenates it before being placed back in your body. We took that 4%. The next day I was near death and was told if I didn’t get my transplant now, I was gonna die within the next 24 hours. Luckily that night, we got the call that lungs were on their way two hours from the hospital. So I was sedated and at 11 that evening, Nov. 16, I went into surgery.
When I came out, my body began rejecting my lungs that were 9% too small and my chest filled up with fluids. My numbers dropped into the twenties instead of the nineties and my parents were forced to sign papers for when I died. Then the medicine kicked in, my numbers increased, and they shredded the papers. My trachea came out New Year's Eve and I was out of there Valentine's day 2014. I returned every two weeks and then every month and now every three months.
I am forever thankful for my donor and the family who made that sacrifice for me and my family. Sadly, not everyone gets a second chance at life during these times. Cystic Fibrosis is a deadly disease that is not advertised as much as other common diseases. Getting more recognition could not only mean a cure but mean families could get a second chance with their loved ones.
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