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“I was diagnosed with PPH after having one open heart surgery at the age of 1. I was born with my atrial wall missing and all my pulmonary veins reversed. This was just something I grew up with. I did not know any other lifestyle,” Quesada said.
PPH causes the pressures in the lungs to heighten, causing a person to be unable to breathe after exerting himself or herself. Quesada said that this made her unable to climb stairs too fast or participate in any type of physical activities, such as gym class, growing up. She also had a central line placed into her chest, which was attached to a machine she had to wear around her waist that infused medication into her body. She said it was a lifeline for her.
Quesada found out that she needed her first lung transplant in 2009. “My PPH was getting worse and I developed a hemorrhage in one of my lungs, causing me to cough up severe amounts of blood, not knowing if it would stop each time. This also caused my heart to work extra hard so I went into heart failure as well,” Quesada said. Once she received her new set of lungs, she no longer had PPH. The first lung transplant helped Quesada be able to start attending college at Montclair State University and start doing activities that she was unable to do before.
Unfortunately, in 2012, she was in need of a new set of lungs. “As for the second transplant, I first noticed I needed it when I began to start having trouble doing simple things such as going up stairs, getting dressed or even walking around Montclair’s campus. The reason for this is that my body began to reject the lungs because it realized that they were not mine and treated the lungs like a foreign object in my body. This set off my immune system to work overtime to attack it,” Quesada said.
Quesada went through a second lung transplant, which helped for a couple of years, but now her body has started to reject the lungs. “After an open lung biopsy that determined I was once again in chronic rejection, the doctors started plasma and Photopheresis. This seems to be my only option. Unfortunately there is already some lung damage and the treatment opens the door to other diseases. I don’t have much of an immune system to fight infections. I contracted the varicella virus and it took a toll on my lungs. I’m currently still fighting this and am now on oxygen around the clock. I am hoping that my lungs will heal enough that I can breath a little better and not have to use the oxygen. The treatments are ongoing for now, which means more commutes to the hospital,” said Quesada.
The hospital that she must go to for treatment is the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which is a far commute for Quesada and her family. That is one of the reasons that she and her family are fundraising, because tolls and gas alone to get to and from the hospital so often are adding up to be a large expense.
“My medical situation has been an ongoing thing since birth. We have always been able to manage the expenses. In 2009 when it all took a turn for the worse, my family was able to financially sustain us. Unfortunately due to the continuous setbacks during the last five years, this has taken a toll on my family. My trips to the hospital are very expensive. I stay at the Family House in order to receive treatments as most of them are outpatient, adding to the expense. There are always out-of-pocket medical expenses and treatments that are ongoing costing money,” said Quesada. “Since I’m so sick, I’m not able to have a job to help pay for some of these expenses to take some of the strain away from my family. I wanted to do something to help my family so I decided to tell my mom to start a fundraiser to help us.”
Quesada’s fundraising page has a goal of raising $7,000 right now, to help with the large amount of expenses that she and her family are facing.
“I am beyond words at how many people are supporting me. The most support I have gotten is from all of the Greek organizations at MSU. It is amazing to see all of them come together to help donate money. It makes me feel so great that so many people care about me. I am so blessed to have such amazing people in my life,” said Quesada. She is a member of Phi Sigma Sigma national sorority’s MSU chapter.
The best way to help, Quesada said, is to either donate or help spread the word to others, to inspire them to donate. She said any donation helps her tremendously.
“I think the reason I stay so positive is because I have a lot of faith and a lot of people have faith in me. I know that I go through a lot but I always manage to be OK in the end. I won’t ever stop fighting and I have all my family and friends keeping my spirits up,” said Quesada.