PITTSBURGH — She is a long way from home, is very sick and time is running out
"In the last 10 days she's basically been on life support," said Nick O'Hara.
Ashland native Caitlin O’Hara was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 2, a disease which primarily affects the lungs.
Now 33, Caitlin desperately needs a double-lung transplant.
“Last week she was listed as the sickest person on the lung transplant list in the United States,” said Nick.
Caitlin's father says Boston hospitals refused to put her on their transplant lists because she was high risk.
The family is now in Pittsburgh where a hospital has agreed to do the surgery if lungs become available. But that's the other part of the problem.
“If she was like 6 feet tall we probably wouldn't have a problem getting lungs,” said Nick.
But Caitlin is 5-foot-2 and her size makes it difficult to find a suitable donor, and there just aren't that many lungs available.
The New England Organ Bank tells FOX25 more than 1,400 patients are waiting for lungs, and 200 of those will die waiting each year.
Criteria for getting a lung transplant include survival benefit, medical urgency, waiting time and distance from the donor hospital.
“She's a wonderful person. Just a wonderful person,” said longtime friend Laura Kelly.
Laura met Caitlin when she was a toddler.
“Everyone needs to be hopeful for Caitlin right now. That's what she wants us to be. And to continue the prayers and support of this family during this time until she gets her lungs,” said Laura.
Nick knows that time is running out for his daughter.
“I mean they pull these kids make them go to the death's door and try to pull them off that door and some make it and some don't,” said Nick.
In this season of miracles, Nick is praying his daughter makes it.
Cox Media Group