Elkins man facing lung transplant

ELKINS – An Elkins man who needs to have a double lung transplant hopes to help educate people about lung disease through his personal struggle.

Marty Basil was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which is a scarring in the lungs, by pulmonologist Dr. Ronald Mudry on Nov. 25, 2013, after undergoing a series of lung function tests and a high resolution CT scan.

“Idiopathic” means a specific cause has not been identified for the disease. Symptoms of IPF include a chronic, dry cough, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, discomfort in the chest and weight loss. Many of those diagnosed with the disease, including Basil, are forced to use oxygen tanks.

Basil noticed himself becoming short of breath much easier last fall, which he said was strange as he was an avid hunter and fisherman who enjoyed outdoor activities. The shortness of breath caused him to seek medical attention.

Mudry referred Basil to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he was given more tests. In January the test results confirmed Mudry’s diagnosis of IPF.

Doctors told Basil he was not near transplant stage and they hoped to stabilize the progression. An April CT scan, however, showed severe digression, more scarring and restriction in Basil’s lungs. He was then told he would need a bi-lateral lung transplant.

Basil said hearing the diagnosis felt like a “dagger to my spirit,” but his religious faith helped to keep him afloat.

“When you’re given a diagnosis like that you are crushed and the only thing that can keep you from falling apart is a deep faith,” Basil said. “I have been literally ‘bathed’ in prayer by my church, Summit Church, and trust God to bring me through this.”

“Patients are devastated and they’re desperate,” Basil said. “To describe the disease, it’s like being a fish out of water or like being underwater where you are holding your breath and anticipating reaching the surface as you break through and you breathe, and it’s really, really great relief. With IPF, you don’t break through.”

On June 27, Basil was officially listed with the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), meaning he could receive a call at any moment that a donor lung has been located. He would need to be in Pittsburgh within four hours to receive the transplant.

According to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, pulmonary fibrosis affects 132,000 to 200,000 people in the United States and an estimated 50,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

To date, there is no FDA-approved treatment for pulmonary fibrosis and an estimated 40,000 lives are lost from the disease each year.

A fundraiser account has been set up to help Basil with medicine and lodging costs during and after the transplant. Checks can be made payable to Summit Outreach Ministries, with The Marty Basil Lung Fund written in the memo section.

For more information, Basil can be reached by phone at 304-642-1092 or 304-636-2141. or by e-mail at mmebaz@yahoo.com.