Breathing. Go ahead. Do it with me. Breathe In. Breathe Out. It’s so simple. Something most people take for granted. The ability to live past the age of 20 or 30, to build a successful career, to raise children, to travel. The average healthy person inhales about 28,800 times a day without even thinking twice or having to work at it. For me, breathing is a luxury, and a full-time job. Every day I fight to breathe.
My name is Caleigh Haber. I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis the day after I was born. On only my second day on this earth, I underwent abdominal surgery. The surgeon came into the room and told my parents they found Meconium Ileum in my intestines. A newborn child with a life expectancy of less than 18. Today I am 24 years young. I was raised to be strong, loving, confident, compassionate, honest, grateful, and aware of my disease; but in the back of my mind there’s always a number – the average life expectancy of a person born with Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is a disease caused by a defective gene. This abnormality in the gene causes the body to produce thick and sticky mucus. The mucus builds up in the breathing airways of the lungs and pancreas, making it difficult to exchange oxygen and to properly digest food, often resulting in malnutrition. When severe, the disease causes many lung infections and stomach problems. Scarring from infection causes me to slowly suffocate – eventually leaving my lungs unable to supply enough oxygen to my body. Cystic Fibrosis is incurable and genetic.
Once a patient reaches end stage lung disease it is recommended that they undergo a double lung transplant. The success of lung transplantation is measured by the average length of survival of the recipient after the operation. More than 80 percent of people with Cystic Fibrosis are alive one year after transplantation and more than 50 percent are alive after five years. Some people are even fortunate enough to live more than 10 years after surgery. I was listed for a double lung transplant on April 3rd, 2014 and am currently waiting to receive my life-saving surgery.
A few years ago you would find it difficult to believe I was sick if you looked at me. Cystic Fibrosis is an invisible disease. Today, however, I require supplemental oxygen to breathe, a feeding tube to maintain my nutrition, and I call the hospital my second home due to frequent admissions to receive antibiotics. Every day I continue the fight to breathe. Please take a moment to sign up for organ donation. Not only could you save my life, but you’re guaranteed to be helping someone; and that someone may be a friend or family member.> More Stories