RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) – The Richmond-based “#Help Tucker Breathe” social media campaign has raised nearly $40,000 from around the world in six days for a Henrico County man with cystic fibrosis who likely needs a double-lung transplant to keep living.
We’re told Tucker Gordon, 25, a Deep Run high School graduate, was scheduled to be picked up by an airplane sent by Duke University Hospital at 11 p.m. Tuesday.On a ventilator, he is to be transported to the North Carolina center known for lung transplants for an evaluation.
The brainchild of the social network fund-raiser is 22-year-old Marye-Ann Hill of Richmond, whose sister, Chantel, also had CF. Chantel died in the fall of 2010, a year after her own double-lung transplant.
Marye-Ann and Tucker Gordon are like siblings in the Richmond-area family of cystic fibrosis, a lung destroying disease. They grew up seeing each other at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical Center, where he and Marye-Ann’s older sister would frequently come for treatments or longer stays.
As a child, Marye Ann says, she thought every family had someone with cystic fibrosis. She thought every family prayed every night for a cure.
It didn’t take her long to realize CF can be a death sentence.
When Chantel reached the point she had to have her lungs replaced at Duke University Hospital, the family learned they had to have an extra $45,000 for family members to move there for her crucial rehab. And there were other expenses because the disease had weakened other parts of her body, which ultimately led to her death.
Shortly before Chantel died, Marye-Ann tearfully remembers him coming into her hospital room, getting on his knees and gathering everyone – including the doctors – in a circle. “He prayed for five minutes. He cried.”
Recently, Tucker suffered a bout of pneumonia, and his condition tumbled. He’s on a ventilator, in dire need of transplants.
Remembering how her sister gasped for breath, for life, Marye-Ann said she settled on the compelling phrase, Help Tucker Breathe, for her Facebook site.
Her friend, Lindsay England, who has never meet Tucker, set up a “Go Fund Me” giving site and a #HelpTuckerBreathe hashtag to help spread the word on Twitter.
In just six days, they have raised nearly $40,000.
Hill said supporters have been tweeting Tucker’s story to celebrities, like Katie Couric, who then re-tweet the message to their followers. The result has been a steady stream of support and money into the fund from everyone from US Marines in Iraq to local children.
Tuesday evening, Tucker’s Mother, Page Gordon, posted this statement in gratitude:
“My heart is full of love; my body full of strength and determination. The past 30+ days have been a roller coaster and I know our journey is just beginning. I am overwhelmed but humble with all of the prayers, donations, media and notes everyone has posted. A lot of whom I do not know. I have always believed if we all band together and give just a dollar, so many needs can easily be met. Duke transport is now on their way to pick up Tucker. It will be a long night -early morning ahead I ask each of you to keep him in your prayers and I pray that he will receive new lungs and finally know what it means to breathe. Peace to all.”
To learn more about Duke’s University’s lung transplant program, visit this site: http://www.dukehealth.org/services/transplants/programs/lung/