Fellow writer Stasia Bliss wrote an article recommending alternative health practices as a viable option over lung transplants for cystic fibrosis patients. The article quickly provoked readers comments, most of which were quite angry, outraged even. Stasia Bliss’ argument was clearly stated and even followed up with another article responding to the readers. That only added gasoline to the fire. Like they say, if you can’t take the heat, get yo butt out the kitchen, well now’s a good time to do just that unless you have fire fighting experience, or just like it hot…
I immediately had to discover the reason behind the controversy, and then decide which position I would support. I have chosen to argue in favor of lung transplants being the best option for cystic fibrosis survivors and these are my reasons why.
Who in America has not been affected by a friend or family member with a chronic illness? How many people do you know that haven’t lost a friend or family member to some of the well known diseases? Lower respiratory tract infections kill more than 4 million people a year, COPD is estimated to be the third biggest killer in the world by 2020, and heart disease is still the number 1 illness affecting americans, with 31.5% fatalities in women every year, and accounting for a quarter of the male population.
For those readers who do not know much about cystic fibrosis, let us go over a few fast facts:
- According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the genetic illness affects around 70,000 people worldwide, 30,000 Americans.
- The disease is known to differ in degree when it comes to severity of symptoms, and each day is unique in that it can be a flare-up or a remission.
- On a typical day, a CF patient takes pnacreatic enzymbe supplements with everything they eat, take multi-vitamins, perform some type of inhalation therapy, at least once but often up to four or more times a day, take special medicine through inhalers or through a nebulizer
Obviously, there’s a lot going on here, and certainly there isn’t a writer here at the Guardian Express who would minimize the extreme effort and dedication it takes cystic fibrosis patients and their families to maintain a relatively happy life. I do not have cystic fibrosis, however, I am a human being, so is Stasia Bliss of the original article “Lung Transplant May Not Be Best Option for Cystic Fibrosis”, the author many of you wanted to crucify because she recommended seeking alternative methods of health care treatments before electing for lung transplants.
Is it necessary to have suffered a particular illness to be able to empathize and understand what it means to suffer? I’ll let the readers answer to themselves.
What I will answer is the benefits of lung transplants and why they really are the best available option for cystic fibrosis survivors.
First, it’s important to understand that not every patient with cystic fibrosis is eligible to elect this treatment, the defining factor for lung transplant eligibility is deteriorating lung function.
“Lung transplantation is the therapeutic measure of last resort for patients with end-stage lung disease who have exhausted all other available treatments without improvement. (Wiki)
Secondly, there is a shortage of available lungs, which means there are waiting lists, and people with other illnesses competing for the same short supply. However, the procedure offers such a strong chance of extending life and improving it’s quality, that a Philidelphia District Judge recently ruled to overturn a lung transplant allocation policy that prevented children under 12 from receiving adult lungs.
District Judge Michael Baylson passed the ruling, June 5 that Sarah and 11-year-old Javier Acosta of New York City should be eligible for adult lungs. Sarah was gravely ill when the ruling came down. Surely, advocates of alternative health can recognize the limitations of their remedies in situations where the disease has advanced beyond the body’s capacity to regenerate on it’s own?
And success stories from people like Margaret Benson, who in 1999 received a double lung transplant, and has gone on to participate in four World Transplant Games and three National Transplant games, holding two world records and is national record champion in race walk and 200m sprint; for her age class.
Margaret Benson’s motto of determination against all odds is “no matter what happens, believe in your dreams, believe in yourself”… and surely she is a living example of what that means. When Margaret Benson was first diagnosed with the illness she was 14 years old, and back then, life expectancy was 15 years. There’s been great strides obviously due to modern medicine as many survivors of cystic fibrosis reach into their thirties and later.
Margaret knew she was meant to be a teacher, so she became one in her twenties. She was in her thirties when her lungs began to fail her, and she elected to have a transplant. Due to her rare B+ blood type, she was put on a waiting list; during which time she became so frail she could no longer go to school with her oxygen tank behind her. This time she had to rest and wait. The double transplant happened in 1999, and she suffered a seizure and stroke following a subsequent operation, but even that didn’t stop her resolve to live and live to her best ability. She went on to compete in the World and National Transplant games, winning gold and silver medals, but her success isn’t about ego.
She participates in the games to show donor families what a remarkable difference their loved ones have made to recipients and to promote organ donation (she loves to give away her medals to donor families in attendance), a cause she’s very passionate about
That commitment to educating and inspiring others was recently recognized.
In summary, lung transplants are not common procedures for most cystic fibrosis patients, and are reserved for those whose lungs are quite literally failing them and their lives are at stake. Keeping those conditions in mind, it is somewhat ludicrous to assert that essential oils and yoga exercise are relative comparisons at this stage of the disease.
In fact, the alternative therapies mentioned are most likely a compliment to an already established medical protocol, which can help prevent the disease from progressing that far. However, that is still a theoretical concept as Stasia Bliss did not address that statement or provide clinical research that supports even that much of a presumption.
Established pharmaceutiful options and treatments have proven effective in extending the life of cystic fibrosis patients. It is rare now for children to need a transplant because survivors are living longer with the condition.
Treatments for the genetic disease have improved so much over the past decade that patients live much longer before their lungs start to wear out.
Survival rate for transplant recipients is 50% after 5 years, so it still does not offer a cure, and is an extremely major surgery which patients have to be qualified to enlist. For those than can and must endure such serious surgery, it makes good sense to choose this path.
People like Margaret Benson are perfect examples of what the body can do when there’s a strong will and mind to work with it. Until the wholistic field of medicine can produce research and studies showing and proving their effectiveness and claims, lung transplants are the best option for cystic fibrosis survivors, because they provide the best opportunity for the eligible patients to get a second lease on life.
Cystic Fibrosis of Canada – About Cystic Fibrosis: How Does It Affect Daily Life?
Cystic Fibrosis of Canada – Cystic Fibrosis and Lung Transplantation
Facebook – Cystic-Fibrosis-Canada-Hamilton-Chapter
Northshore Outlook – Coffee With Margaret Benson – A Lesson in Courage