Gareth – Mt. Airy, MD

Gareth sitting on the couch with his cat.

“Three years ago, I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. My family and I have owned, and worked, a farm in Mt. Airy, Maryland, most of my life. During renovation of my mother and father’s farmhouse, I unblocked a bricked chimney to find wheelbarrows full of soot and ash. I had not prepared myself with a mask or protective clothing. Shortly after the project, I was attending a weekend function and began to cough. This wasn’t just any cough. I couldn’t stop.

I was referred to a pulmonologist at Johns Hopkins who delivered the news that I had pulmonary fibrosis in both lungs. She was not able to confirm the cause of the disease, but I suspect it had something to do with the soot and ash I inhaled during the renovation and exposure to spores over many years working the farm. The doctor told me that I would be a good candidate for a single or double (depending on the donor) lung transplant.

Pulmonary fibrosis prevents me from doing a lot of things, like going outside in the heat or when the pollen count is high. My wife, Anna, and I even had to relocate our pet birds because they could no longer live in the house with my condition.

Since my diagnosis, I take three pills three times a day to slow the progression of my disease. The medications are very expensive, costing about $6,000 a month. I’ve been on Medicare for two years and that helps with some of the expense, but it still doesn’t cover everything. I now pay $40 a month for my prescriptions, but that puts a drain on finances for me and Anna.

My pulmonologist is the one who told me about the HealthWell Foundation. I didn’t waste any time contacting them, and within about a 10-minute phone discussion, I was approved for a $9,000 grant to help with copays for my medication. This is my second grant from the HealthWell Foundation, and I was able to reapply over the phone. They made it very easy for me to continue with their program.

Anna and I have been married for almost 50 years. We have four wonderful children and beautiful grandchildren. Since my diagnosis, we have been faced with some difficult choices regarding my health care, treatment options and our financial future. Having a lung transplant is life-changing and the financial burden it will place on me and my family is a huge concern. I don’t want to give up my children’s inheritance to stay alive. I’ll see the surgeon in August and will have to make some life-altering decisions. In the meantime, I don’t need to worry about getting my pulmonary fibrosis medications because of a HealthWell grant. Thank you HealthWell Foundation and all its donors who provide people like me the ability to afford medications we can’t live without.”

Gareth – Mt. Airy, MD

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