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Raising awarness about Pulmonary Fibrosis

Updated: Monday, September 30 2013, 10:47 AM CDT
Reported by: Sherry Christian
Contributor: Rachel Snody (Rsnody@local21news.com)

We conclude National Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month on the last day of September, but the fight to breathe continues everyday for people living with the disease.

Two women are making a difference, by opening the eyes of people who are struggling to open their lungs.

The sound of an oxygen being released, is the sound of life for 61-year-old Gail Barner of Dauphin County. The portable tanks are what keeps her alive.  Without them, she would fight for every breath, as Pulmonary Fibrosis, a lung disease with no treatment or cure, fights to take her life. "I Can't go anywhere without oxygen." Gail said.

Just a trip to church is a painstaking process as Gail's husband, Park, has to load up the car with all of the proper attachments to keep Gail breathing. Despite it all, Gail doesn't let the hassle stop her from raising awareness about the disease, that takes her breath away.

Gail's efforts to help others, doesn't surprise the man who takes her breath away, in a good way. "She goes out of her way to do things like that and mentally, it has to help. It's hard physically, but it's a good thing." Park said.

Her phone is a life line for the Barner's. It will ring the minute there are lungs available for Gail's transplant. Until then, the tanks will have to be her life line, everywhere she goes.

Call it, a tethered roller coaster rid of emotions. For example, the Barner's got that all important phone call just a couple of months after Gail was placed on the transplant waiting list.  "We went to Pittsburgh and did pre-testing.  The plane was on the way to Florida to get the lungs and they called and said the donor family changed their mind." Said Gail.

But the Barner's didn't give up and sought help from a support group in the area. The group wouldn't have existed, had it not been for 41-year-old Heather Snyder. Heather's father died from Pulmonary Fibrosis 32 years ago. Two and a half years ago, the disease almost killed Heather.  "My mom was about 15 - 20 minutes away and the doctor called and said your daughter has about 15 - 20 minutes to live." Heather said.

But, she got her new lungs and has the scar to prove it. Heather hasn't stopped using her lungs to breathe and to talk to anyone about the importance of early diagnosis.

One of the things Heather says saved her life, was a Pulmonary Fibrosis seminar she attended.  She wants everyone to know about another seminar coming up on Tuesday, October 8th from 12-4:30 p.m. at the Sheraton on Lindle Road in Harrisburg.

For more information on Pulmonary Fibrosis, click here: http://www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org/node/238Raising awarness about Pulmonary Fibrosis


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