Fayette County

Local business owner, former Miss West Virginia America in need of double lung transplant

GAULY BRIDGE, WV (WVNS) -  Jennifer Skaggs is a professional when it comes to being exquisite. Back in 2015, she graced the stage and took home the title of Miss West Virginia America. But, you may have seen her helping other girls shine in the spotlight, helping them find the perfect dress at her Beckley store Jean Ann's Bridal and Prom.

Skaggs achievement's surpassed even those of a healthy person despite her lifelong battle with a rare condition, which has grown more fierce in recent years.

"I was born with a condition called Situs Inversus where all your organs are actually flipped., so my hearts on the opposite, side my liver, my appendix everything," Skaggs said. "For some, that actually poses no problem throughout their life but I also have a rare condition called Primary Cilla Dyskinesia."

Meaning that the imobile cilla in her body cannot clear the mucous and fluid in her lungs and airways, causing Skaggs frequent infections and sickness that put her in the hospital 10 out of 12 months in 2018.

It takes a team of 27 doctors to treat her...but the bulk of her regimen is done at home.

"I start out my day putting this vest on with tubes hook up to it, and the machine will actually run for 20 minutes as it inflates air and vibrates," Skaggs demonstrated. "The percussion allows me to be able to cough up because the cilla doesn't allow me to."

That is accompanied by nebulizers, stacks of antibiotics to take on her bookshelf, and rolling a portable oxygen tank to walk out of her front door.  A double lung transplant is the magic that could make this all go away.

"The lungs will be disease free so I will be able to run again, never be on oxygen, all the 6 hour treatments a day will be all gone.," Skaggs said excitedly.

While her mom is holding down the Beckley store, Skaggs remains confined to her home...trying to enjoy the little things in life .But she is not afraid to say that she is young, and scared...and hopes she will get that phone call saying she can finally have her double lung transplant and go back to her normal life .

"I can't play with my nieces or nephews or my god babies, I can't go out for an extended period of time...date night for me is 'Well how short is it gonna be because I only have 2-4 hours of oxygen,'" Skaggs added. "I've stepped outside of my store and I love helping my customers."

You can support Skaggs and her journey by attending a fundraiser for her this Sunday at Fujiyama in Beckley at 5 p.m. The event will include a raffle with prizes sent from local businesses and even actress Jennifer Gardner.

You can also donate to her Gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/my-first-breath.

 


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