April 9, 2013

Cystic Fibrosis Teen Inspires Denny Hamlin to Heal

Richmond, VA – Alyssa Doane did not celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends and family as she had hoped. December 31, 2012 was the first of 28 consecutive a days she spent in the hospital fighting cystic fibrosis (CF).

Stricken with a sudden illness that resulted in dangerously low lung function, fevers and unexplained rashes, she spent much of that time in intensive care. It also caused her oxygen levels to drop.

Although Alyssa is now at home on IV antibiotics, she is still recovering.

"It has been a very slow return, and CF is so unpredictable that we will not know just how far she will recover," Christal Doane, Alyssa's mother, said. "She has had to fight her way back to be able to even stand again without help."

Alyssa, a 13-year old 8th grader at Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Hanover County, Virginia, was diagnosed with CF just shy of her second birthday and has spent over a year of her short life in the hospital.

"When we got the news [of her diagnosis], my world stopped moving,"

Christal said. "The thing...about CF that rang in my ears was those kids don’t live very long, and they suffer."

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic, life-threatening disease that coats the lungs with thick, sticky mucus. It also attacks the digestive tract and other areas of the body. There is no cure.

For those not familiar with CF Christal explains, "Imagine that your baby catches a terrible cold with a cough, fever and stomach issues...Now, imagine the doctor saying your baby’s cold will never go away, and you will have to fight to keep it healthy."

Alyssa's rigorous daily treatments and therapy to keep her lungs clear takes about four hours. In addition, she takes a lot of medication and tries to eat well. “I had to get a feeding tube because I couldn't eat enough food to get all of the calories I needed," Alyssa said. “A lot of times I have to do IV antibiotics at home to keep infections in my lungs under control.”

"Kids shouldn't have to spend their entire lives fighting such a terrible disease," Denny Hamlin, FedEx #11 Sprint Cup NASCAR driver said. “It breaks my heart each time we lose someone to CF. This is why I started the Denny Hamlin Foundation."