A chance to breathe

Published 10:55 am Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ironton teen fights cystic fibrosis

Bethany Bibb was just 3 years old when her doctors diagnosed her with cystic fibrosis, a chronic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system.

Now a 16 year-old junior at Ironton High School, Bethany is a bright, active teenager who is in need of a double lung transplant. Bethany’s mother, Elizabeth Bibb, said the physicians have been talking about it for a while.

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“She did well for a while but as she got older, it began to progress,” Bibb said. “Her lungs started to deteriorate. It has been a year since the doctors started talking about lung transplant.”

Bibb said at one time Bethany was able to run track at school, and now she is on oxygen. She said anything Bethany does takes a lot of effort.

Bibb said getting on the transplant list is tricky.

“There is a small window,” Bibb said. “You have to be sick enough to be considered a candidate, but you have to be well enough to receive it.”

Bibb said the transplant wouldn’t cure Bethany of CF, but it would improve her quality of life drastically.

Bibb said without the transplant, Bethany’s prognosis is not a good one.

“She would die, and probably very soon,” Bibb said. “She is at the end stage of cystic fibrosis.”

Another stumbling block in the way of getting Bethany on the transplant list is money. The cost of the transplant is expected to be $35,000 and to be put on the list, they had to have $5,000 raised.

With the help of Bethany’s Buddies, a fundraising group through The Children’s Organ Transplant Association, coordinated by Belinda Brown, $10,000 has been raised.

The group had a fundraiser Saturday that brought in more than $3,400 and they are in the process of planning more events.

“I’d like to thank the community and all the people who have given all over the Tri-State. Without them, this miracle couldn’t have happened,” Brown said about the fundraising. She said at Saturday’s event, she was touched seeing some people giving $2, saying it was all they had to give.

“There is no little amount,” Brown said. “We will take any donation and every penny is going to help Bethany get these new lungs. Everybody is having a hard time, but what they’re giving is amazing.”

Brown grew up with Bethany’s mother, and she and Elizabeth Bibb have remained friends through the years.

She said she wanted to help in any way she could.

Brown said anyone wanting to contribute to Bethany’s Buddies can do so by several ways.

Donations can be made at any PNC Bank branch location using account number 6007679981, or mailed to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, 2501 West COTA Drive, Bloomington, In., 47403, with checks or money orders made payable to COTA, with “In Honor of Bethany B.” written on the memo line of the check. Credit card donations are also accepted online at www.COTAforBethanyB.com.

Elizabeth Bibb described Bethany as an overall wonderful person who is very smart.

“She has a 4.0 average in school,” Bibb said. “She plays a trumpet play in the band. This year, she was picked to be one of the field commanders, but she really never got a chance to do that because she got sick and couldn’t attend too many of the games. She is a sweet kid and loves the Lord. She is a good person.” Bibb said Bethany plans on becoming a biotechnologist.

“She wants to find a cure and help other people,” she said. “She is a remarkable person.”

Bibb said faith in God has helped their family through this situation.

“Without it, I don’t think she would still be here,” Bibb said. “Without my faith, I know that I would have never made it. God has seen us through some stuff through the years.”

Bibb hopes for a great future for Bethany.

“I just hope that when she comes through this whole thing, that she will be able to do everything she wants to do,” she said. “I want to see her grow up and have children. I want to see her happy and be a blessing to other people. She has blessed my life so mightily and I want her to know she didn’t go through this for no reason. I just want her to be happy and healthy and vibrant, living life to the fullest.”

While Bethany knows the battle isn’t close to being over, without being on the transplant list yet, she is hopeful.

“Just to breathe better and have a normal life,” Bethany said. “I really haven’t had normal lungs my whole life, so it will be quite different.”

Bethany said what gets her through the hard times is her friendships and staying as active as she can. She is thankful for all the support she has received.

“I just want to thank everybody who has been working to raise money for me,” she said. “It means a lot.”