For much of her life, Christina kept the life-threatening genetic disease she lives with a secret in hopes of living a normal life.
She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 6 months old and learned when she was in middle school that the average life expectancy is 33. Her attempt to live normally was interrupted by frequent trips to the hospital to fight infections caused by the disease.
But in the past several months, Christina, who is now 23, says she's watched as several friends with the condition struggled to raise money to pay for potentially life-saving lung transplants, and she began to think about her future and how she could help others.
“What if the doctors were to come to me tomorrow and say, ‘Christina, it’s time for a lung transplant,’” she says. “I didn’t want to spend the next year of my life trying to raise $40,000 and telling people, ‘Hey, I have cystic fibrosis, and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.’ Something within my heart was telling me it was time to share it. I didn’t want to wait any longer.”
She wrote her story on notecards and asked her mom to record her as she held them up one at a time, revealing:
"When I was 6 months old I got life-changing news!! I was diagnosed with a life threatening illness! I have cystic fibrosis."
Then, she posted the video on Facebook. More than 12 million people have watched the video.
About 30,000 children and adults have cystic fibrosis. ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains that the disease affects the lungs, as well as the pancreas, sweat glands and digestive system. He says that a healthy person has thin mucus, which helps rid the body of infections quickly. But, he says, in people with cystic fibrosis, a defective gene produces thick mucus, which makes breathing difficult and infections difficult to control. People with cystic fibrosis must go to the hospital for IV antibiotics to fight infections.
Symptoms of cystic fibrosis include persistent coughing, frequent lung infections, shortness of breath and poor growth, despite a good appetite, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. When someone with cystic fibrosis develops severe lung disease, doctors often recommend having a lung transplant.
As a result of the attention from her video, Christina started her own foundation to raise awareness and to raise money to help people with cystic fibrosis pay for lung transplants when they need them.
“I wanted to be able to say to every CF patient like myself, ‘When you go in and you qualify for a lung transplant, you get to spend that year with your family, and you don’t have to worry about paying that $40,000,’” Christina says. “’My foundation is going to step in and pay for that.’”
The Doctors surprise Christina by telling her that Safe Step Walk-in Tub Company is donating $10,000 to her foundation.
To watch Christina’s video and donate to her foundation, visit the Christina Davidson Foundation website.