Breathing, exercising, and daily activities in general are all struggles for Justin Burke.
Justin has an incurable disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis, which makes it hard to breathe. The same disease killed his father. "It doesn't really hurt, just the anxiety of not being able to
breathe, and feeling like you're drowning without being in water," said Justin.
Healthy lungs are stretchy, compliant organs. They let you breathe air in and push carbon dioxide out. But that all changes with Justin's disease. "You end up with a lung that is stiff and you're limited in
what you can do in terms of breathing and exercise tolerance," said Dr. James McCafferty, Pulmonary doctor at Regional Medical Clinic.
McCafferty says Justin, who is only 33, is extremely young to have this disease. In doing research on certain clinics, the youngest patient McCafferty found was 40. The doctor says people diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis die within three to five years. "We really don't have any effective treatment that changes the outcome," said McCafferty. "The only thing that really prolong survival is lung transplant."
Fortunately, Justin was just put on the transplant list. "Now we've reach the next step, so things are moving along but it's still, it's a long transplant. That's pretty scary," said McCafferty.
But that's not all Justin has to worry about. With three kids and wife of seven years, Justin has a lot on his plate. That's why a benefit is being held to help offset the medical costs.
"Feeling like somebody else is helping you is a big relief," sad Justin's wife Vesi.
The benefit is at the Buglin' Bull restaurant in Custer on Saturday, March 8.