Fresno woman in need of a life-saving transplant

September 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Imagine living your life struggling for every breath. That is the reality for one Fresno woman ever since she accidentally inhaled pool chemicals 14 years ago. Her lungs have worsened since then, and doctors say she needs to replace both lungs soon to survive.

Donice Pinegar or "Dawn" as she her friends and family call her has a big financial obstacle ahead of her. The transplant costs about $550,000 and that is not counting hospital fees. She and her family are working with the National Foundation for Transplants to raise funds. They have got a long way to go, but they are determined to get there.

Pinegar relies on an oxygen tank to live.

"It's really hard to breathe during anything," Pinegar said.

Pinegar accidently inhaled pool chemicals back in 1999.

"I had just bought pool chemicals, my pool was green. I had a doughboy and I put it on the counter, and the counter had a puddle of water and I didn't see it. And it activated in my home so within a few minutes the house filled with chlorine," Pinegar said.

Doctors found out Pinegar had alpha-1 antitryspin deficiency, a rare genetic disorder that affects the lungs and liver. The disorder combined with the pool chemicals made for a lethal combination, and over the years Pinegar has lost more and more of her lung function. She is down to less than 20 percent of her original lung power. That is why her daughter, Tya is working with the National Foundation for Transplants to help raise funds, so her mom can get new lungs.

"They've helped getting banners, getting cards, giving us ideas for fundraisers," Tya Pinegar said.

This month Pinegar and her family are selling tickets for a meal at Tahoe Joes; they have already sold more than a hundred.

"It's a baby step but it's not going to come anywhere close but at least we have something, something is better than nothing," Tya Pinegar said.

The family says they have hope because doctors haven't given Pinegar a timeline to live. But Pinegar's doctors do say she needs to have the lung transplants soon.

"They're surprised I'm up and walking around I think it's from the support of my family and friends that I'm up and around," Pinegar said.

Doctors tell Pinegar she should try to have the lung transplant by the end of the year. She says she will get the transplant at University of California San Francisco, and at this point she still has to work through the donor waiting list. In the meantime, her family will be holding many more fundraising efforts.

If you would like to help Dawn Pinegar please visit her donation page: patients.transplants.org

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