DELANO, Minn. (KMSP) - A Delano, Minnesota woman with cystic fibrosis is fighting for her life. And with options running out, she’s set to move her family more than 1,000 miles.
Teri Starkey needs a double lung transplant, and if that's not risky enough, she has a condition that could attack the new organs.
“It’s like when you have the flu,” Teri said. “You are knocked out for a week, and you think you are dying. That’s a good portion of my life.”
Teri and her husband Eric have no idea how much longer her lungs will hold out.
“There have been times where I felt like, 'this could be it,' which is really hard,” she said.
As a teenager, Teri was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a disease that ravages the lungs over time.
The current life expectancy for someone with CF is about 37 years. Teri is 33, and doctors have told her it’s time to start thinking about a double lung transplant if she is going to survive much longer.
“I knew it would eventually get there, but not this soon. But [you] never know with this disease,” Teri said.
Complicating her condition, the mother of two has been diagnosed with a bacteria that can further attack new organs.
Some medical facilities, including the Mayo Clinic and the U of M, won’t even attempt a potentially dangerous transplant on her.
So, Teri and Eric have decided in an effort to prolong her life they will move to a hospital that will give her a chance: Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina.
Her friends and family are raising tens of thousands of dollars to prepare for a potentially life-saving procedure with all sorts of unknowns on the horizon. A link to the YouCaring page can be found here.
“She’s the strongest person I know, by far,” Eric said. “I learned a lot about life living with her, seeing what she goes through every day… it’s impressive how strong she is.”
“It’s scary, but I have to block it out,” Teri said. “A lot of stuff I have to block out because I need to be here for my husband and kids and keep fighting.”