At just one day old, Jaimie Harbin Keeping was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis — a fatal, genetic disease for which there is no cure.
Today, at just 23, after two near-fatal lung collapses and repair surgeries, multiple chest tubes, months in hospital, two blood transfusions and reoccurring pneumonia, Jaimie is out of options: she needs a double lung transplant to live.
To do so, she needs to move to Toronto.
She needs help.
<<<< About Cystic Fibrosis >>>>
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common, fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults. It causes various effects on the body, but mainly impacts the digestive system and lungs. The degree of CF severity differs from person to person; however, the persistence and ongoing infection in the lungs, with destruction of lungs and loss of lung function, will eventually lead to death in the majority of people with CF.
<<<< About Jaimie >>>>
The persistent cough, extreme shortness of breath, frequent chest infections, percussion therapy sessions, bouts of pneumonia and inability to achieve a healthy weight that are all-too-common for people with CF, has done little to slow Jaimie’s drive and tenacity to approach each day as an adventure. Nor has Jamie wavered in light of the handfuls of enzymes, multivitamins, mucolytics, antibiotics and other medications that she must take each day so that she can live.
A cheerleader, a runner, a world-traveler, an award-winning academic and a scientist — Jaimie has set lofty goals in life. She’s achieved each thing she’s put her mind to, and surpassed what many medical professionals thought possible given her illness.
She is a dynamo.
<<< In recent years >>>
Jaimie graduated from Dalhousie University in 2017 with a Bachelor’ Degree in Ocean Science. A dream she’s held since she was a child. Today, she’s living that dream as a Research Scientist with Nature’s Way Canada.
However, the road to this career wasn’t easy.
While she achieved honours, Jaimie’s time in university was plagued by hospital stays and illness. This was due, in large part, to the never-ending support of her family as well as her friends, who learned how to administer Jaimie’s nightly percussion therapy to keep her airways from sealing shut with mucus.
Certainly, others would have faltered; but, not Jaimie.
She remained incredibly positive and steadfast in reaching her goals — an important part of which was living the life of a typical university student — being stressed about tests and assignments, having fun, laughing until her stomach hurt and forging friendships to last a lifetime.
This resilience was best demonstrated when Jaimie checked herself out of the hospital (several times) with an IV stand in tow to write her exams. She'd been studying in her hospital bed. To be clear: Dalhousie said she could delay the exams. She said no.
After graduation, Jaimie left for Europe. With a month’s worth of medication strapped to her back — hundreds of pills — she and her friends took in the sights, sounds and flavours of Germany, Amsterdam, England and Italy (to name a few).
Since this time however, Jaimie’s health has been on a steady decline. After a lung collapse a few months ago, Jaimie’s body has been unable to recover from the trauma. She is in the advanced stages of CF. Without a double lung transplant, Jaime’s prognosis isn’t positive.
Currently, there are five institutions in Canada where Jaimie can get a double-lung transplant surgery. Toronto is the closest. It is also where the world’s first successful double-lung transplant on a person with CF took place in 1988.
<<<< What’s next?>>>>
A double-lung transplant is one of the largest and most taxing surgeries that a person can undergo. It’s also a surgery that requires a miracle to work.
In order for Jaimie to receive new lungs, there has to be a donor with lungs that will fit her small frame as well as her genetic make-up. She also has to prepare for surgery physically. This includes building physical strength and taking medications that will prepare her body to not reject the new lungs.
Because her new lungs will only viable be for a short period of time, Jaimie also has to be available to travel to the hospital at a moment’s notice. Therefore, she needs to be nearby. She has to move to Toronto. She will move and start waiting for her lungs on May 13, 2019.
What’s more, after the surgery there will be a number of follow-up appointments and tests over the course of three months to ensure that everything is working as it should.
After that, and if everything goes as we hope, Jaimie and her family can come back to Halifax.
There is no way to know how long this will take. It’s likely going to take several months. It could take more than a year. We just don’t know.
The road to recovery after this is long and arduous and there are no guarantees. We don’t know how long Jaimie will have with these lungs.
What we do know is that the costs are going to be astronomical. We also know that lungs are just part of the CF puzzle. Many people with CF will also need liver and heart transplants.
We also know that Jaimie and her family need help and that they won’t ask for it. So, we’re asking for them.
<<<< Please help >>>>
Jaimie is the type of person who you want as your daughter and your best friend. For her mom, Jennifer, she is both. She is brilliant, kind, beautiful and incredibly resilient.
Please help ease these exceptional pressures that life has placed on Jaimie and her family, and donate to this fund to help with this next stage of Jaimie’s CF journey.