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69 donations

This fundraiser ended on 08/31/12

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The family and friends of Jim Vacchiano are uniting to raise money to help with his disease and lung transplant. Please show your support!

In December 2011, after months of tests, Jim received the diagnosis that he has an untreatable form of Interstitial Lung Disease and that he should begin the complex process of getting a lung transplant. His Specialists continue to modify his medications every 4-6 weeks while hoping to find a combination that may slow the spread of the disease. Jim's current breathing capacity is now one quarter of the normal rate and declining. He has been advised that a Lung Transplant will probably be his best chance at survival. Jim and his family need your support to help meet the medical and related expenses. Due to long transplant waiting lists and not enough organ donors, relocation to another city for up to a year may be necessary. Jim needs your donations today please, so he may deal with current medical expenses and be able to negotiate the major expenses that come with the surgery and the long term aftercare program.

Background and Chronology

With an extremely rough year 2010 behind the Vacchiano Family, all were hoping for a better 2011. It was not to be.
Jim was a professional in Human Resources since the mid 1980’s while working for three different employers, the last of which hired Jim in 1992. Jim was the HR manager/director until he was downsized out of a job in February 2010. Later that year, Jim’s house went into foreclosure.
March 1, 2011 – An 18 year-old driver ran a stop sign with her vehicle and struck Jim’s vehicle on the driver's- side destroying his vehicle. As a result, Jim’s son, Luke, suffered a broken wrist and Jim had a torn meniscus in his right knee and a pinched nerve in his lower left back which causes foot-drop of his left foot. Because of the non-use of left foot and upcoming hospital time, Jim’s calf muscles have atrophied and are now very small. Jim lost 7 inches of muscle in his left calf and the doctor’s told him that the muscle will not come back. The lack of leg strength and mobility has restricted Jim's ability to heal and build stamina, further complicating his other on-going medical issues.
Late March 2011 – Jim was diagnosed with pneumonia.
May 2011 – Technicians completed a ct scan to ensure that the pneumonia was gone. Two days later he was informed by his doctor that there was cloudiness in his lungs, primarily his left lung. It did not look like cancer. The doctor issued an urgent referral to a Pulmonologist.
The pulmonologist informed Jim that he has Interstitial Lung Disease, (which was caused by a prior exposure to chemicals). Jim was scheduled for immediate surgery to confirm the disease and to have tissue samples removed for further testing.
June 23, 2011 – Jim had the four-hour lung surgery. It was a painful surgery called VATS (Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery). The procedure involved three, one inch in diameter cuts into Jim’s left side. Three one-inch tubes were inserted into the holes and forced through the nerves, the ribcage and into the lung. One tube was for a video camera and flashlight, the 2nd tube was for a surgical stapler used to cut tissue in the lung and the third tube was for a clamp to remove the tissue. After the surgery was completed, all three holes in the lung are stapled closed to stop the bleeding and heal. The suggested recovery time is approximately 2 weeks. In Jim’s case, recovery lasted over 6 weeks, due to problematic post-surgery, internal bleeding. The recovery included 6 weeks of extreme pain.
June 26, 2011 – Jim was released from the hospital after his surgery. Less than 30 hours later Jim is rushed into the emergency room with internal bleeding. Jim lost 50 % of his blood due to problems with closing the surgery. Jim’s body was black. His stomach, left side, hips, back and groin were completely black from the internal blood lost in his body. Jim had emergency blood transfusions until it was safe to release him from the hospital.
July 2011 – Jim was prescribed to take extremely high dosages of steroids daily and to sleep with an oxygen mask. During the day he carried and used an oxygen tank.

August 1, 2011 – Jim was rushed to the hospital emergency room again with a high fever. For three days he was subjected to a myriad of tests to try to find the cause of fever. Jim had fluid in lungs and heart; he met with a team of doctors from the following departments Infectious Diseases, Pulmonary, Hematology, Gastroenterologist and Cardiology. No one could find the cause.
Up to this point Jim had no out of the ordinary breathing problems.
During the fourth night of the hospital stay, Jim had a major breathing attack and was rushed to the Intensive Care department for the next five days until his breathing was under control. Although they could not find the problem to be fixed, Jim was released from the Hospital on August 9, 2011.
August 16, 2011 – Jim was at home and he could not breathe, even with the oxygen he had at his home. Jim was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Washington Township, NJ (this is the same hospital Jim was at during the previous stays noted several times above). Jim was placed once again in the Intensive Care Unit. After several days of testing, no one could come up with the area of the problem. The Heart doctor said it was a pulmonary problem and the pulmonary doctor said it was a heart problem. At this point Jim requested a transfer to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania located in Philadelphia, PA (approximately 20 miles from Kennedy Memorial Hospital). Jim was at Kennedy Hospital from August 16, 2011 to August 19, 2011. On August 19, 2011 he was transferred to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Jim was released from HUP on August 22, 2011.
September, October, November 2011 - testing and consultation with pulmonologist Dr. Emily Stanton.
November 3, 2011 – During consultation with Dr. Stanton, Jim was informed that there are over 200 different types of Interstitial Lung Disease of which they know of 60 they can treat with medications. The others were untreatable at this point in time.
December 21, 2011 – Jim met his new pulmonologist, Dr. Maryanne Kreider. The shocking bad news was that Jim had an untreatable form of Interstitial Lung Disease. Dr. Kreider orchestrated a plan to continue to change Jim’s medications every 4-6 weeks to try to find a combination that would work to stop the spread of the disease. Jim's breathing capacity was declining. With 100 as the normal breathing rate, Jim’s score was 55 in July, September 46, November 37 and December 27. With the numbers going down rapidly, Dr. Kreider suggested that we work on placement on the Lung Transplant List as soon as possible as that will probably be the best chance at survival.
Some statistics for lung transplants at HUP and nationally:
- You must meet certain criteria to be approved for the list
- At the least, it takes several months just to get on the waiting list
- The average wait time once you are on the list is six months
- Most people die while they are on the waiting list
- If you are lucky enough to have the surgery, the survival rate for the first year is 80 % (includes operation)
- Nationally, for some unknown reason at this point in time, when someone receives a transplanted lung, the lung usually only stays healthy for approximately 5 years.
- Lungs are the most difficult organ to transplant
- Lungs have the highest rejection rate of all transplanted organs

January 2012 – Jim was advised to extend the search to other out-of-state hospitals to seek-out shorter waiting lists. Jim was dealt another blow when, after three weeks of severe back pain, he was diagnosed with osteoporosis - involving compression fractures in his spine. This is a side effect of the daily, prescribed steroid dosage.
All of this is very important as his time may be very limited due to the rapid decline of his breathing capacity.

***Please notice the Hugs Tab above -- it is a great spot to enter a favorite memory, funny story or an uplifting comment for Jim!

Please help show your support as Jim fights for survival!

Please donate now - $10 or $20 or whatever is in Your Heart !!

* * * * *
If you would prefer to send a check;

Mail to: Lora Gess, Vice President
TD Bank
491 Hurffville-Crosskeys Road
Sewell, NJ 08080
Attn: Jim's Lung for LIfe

Make checks payable to: Jim Vacchiano. In the memo section of check, list: "Jim's Lung for Life"

Lora's contact information:
T: 856.582.8666
Email: lora.gess@td.com

Jim's Contact Information: jimvacchiano@comcast.net
cell - 609.845.5495
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