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Help get Catherine to San Diego!

I want to thank everyone for coming to this page and liking it. You have no idea what it means to me to have all of you supporting me, and helping me get to San Diego. Right now like most people we are in financial constraints, my family and I do not qualify for a loan, so I hope with the help of family and friends we can reach our goal of 5,000 dollars to get me out there. Why 5,000 dollars.?

Well, let me take you to the beginning of how all of this started. I was born with a genetic condition Sickle Cell Beta-Thalassemia (you can read more about it below). I am no stranger to illness, as I have been in and out of the hospital most of my life. Once I turned 18 in September of 2001, I started to have many acute chest syndromes, this is when sickle cells would attack my lungs, and I would have a hard time breathing. I would spend anywhere from 2-3 weeks in the hospital battle this. I would be in and out of ICU's having many blood transfusions, and even procedures in which they would take out all of my blood and replace it with someone else's. This procedure would lower the amount of sickle cells in my body, but only for a short amount of time.

Let's fast-forward again to about 8 years later. I found out in April of 2010 that I was pregnant with my first child. As anybody knows this is one of if not THE happiest moments of a person's life. I was already considered high-risk cause of my sickle cell, but because I was in the hospital about a month prior to that with lung issues again, the doctors suspected that because it took me a while to come off oxygen in the hospital that I might have Pulmonary Hypertension (read more below). I was considered high-risk for my pregnancy, because of my sickle and suspected PH. My pregnancy was going perfectly, until my 3rd trimester, when I passed out at Abiel's doctor's appointment, was rushed to the ER and was told I threw a clot in my lungs. I was in observation for 3weeks, and was put on oxygen for the remainder of my pregnancy.

On December 6, 2010 I gave birth to my daughter Ava. I was not there to witness her birth, because I was put under general anesthesia. At the time, because doctors did not know of my suspected PH, my right lung collapsed and I was in a coma for 3 days. Part of it was medically induced so my lungs could heal, and because I tried to pull out my intubation tube. I did not meet my daughter until the 4th day. After recovery from my c-section at the hospital I was sent home. The next couple of months would be a really rough one, especially since I was not expecting to continue my home oxygen treatment. It was hard having to care for a newborn, let alone having a hard time just going to the rest room, dressing myself or even just walking around the house. Without the help of my mom and sister Francisca Augustin I don't know what I'd do Not only was being a home rough, I was rushed to the hospital for the next six months numerous times. I was suspected of having a heart attack right heart failure, and more bouts with Acute Chest Syndromes.

It wasn't until March 2011 that officially became diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension. My doctor at the time. Dr. Kuru really wanted to press the issue of how severe this disease could be. Especially at the mortality issue. I was 27 years old, and I had a 3 month old. Dr. Kuru started me on a medication called Bosenten that would help open up my vessels. Even though she put me on this medication, she sent me to NIH in September of 2011 to be further evaluated by Dr. Taylor, the hematologist specialist and Dr. Alam the Pulmonary specialist. I went through three days of testing at NIH, which lead to a 1 1/2 stay because I ended up developing pneumonia. While I was there the doctors ran several of test, one to see the progression of the disease, and two to see what could be the underlying cause. Was it completely my Sickle Cell, or because of Blood Clots. One of the test they ran turned up positive for multiple blood cots, and with the results of these test they sent my records over to the University of California San Diego to their Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy department (read more below about this procedure). The doctor's told me not to get my hopes up about being a candidate, because not everyone is. NIH also decided to add another medication Adcirca, which is also known as Cialis. After leaving NIH, I completely forgot about being a possible candidate for the surgery, and continued to live my life to it's fullest. I continued to get better, walking further distances, and doing more with Ava. I still wasn't off oxygen, but this was the best it would get and I'd have to accept that.

In November of 2011, I got the call from my Dr at NIH. Dr. Alam, that I was a candidate. I asked him if I could put him on hold for a second, and I proceeded to cry happy tears, and jumped around to the best of my abilities. While I was happy I was scared, because this is a huge surgery. I have been scared for a while, but I'm ready to jump onto that boat.

I am currently just a preliminary candidate, and I must get out to San Diego to the University of California San Diego Thorton Hospital for further testing. Testing will go on for a series of 3 days, and at the end of 3 days I will then find out if I am a candidate for the PTE Surgery (more information below). If I am a candidate, surgery will be scheduled for September 3, 2012. With your help of getting me out there I can have a new lease on life, not only for myself, but especially so Ava can have all of Mommy through and through.

Well, traveling by train isn't cheap, but because of all of my oxygen equipment and my inability to stay seated for a long period(hence why I can't fly) I must add a cabin to my trip. I also can not make this trip on my own and my partner Abiel Yohannes will be going with me. We must also have to factor the cost of a hotel, food, and miscellaneous expenses. I have to leave Washington, D.C on August 22nd or August 23rd in order to get there a day or two before my scheduled date August 27, 2012 at 3:00pm.

Again, I would love to thank you all for reading this, your help, your support and your donations!

--Catherine Augustin
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