FRAMINGHAM – A Framingham High Class of 2002 graduate is in need of a double lung transplant.
Chris Merchant, 33, was born with Cystic Fibrosis, or CF.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs as well as the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and intestine. One of the long-term issues is difficulty breathing. Though there are some treatments for cystic fibrosis, there is no cure.
Merchant was born in Marietta, Georgia with his two parents and his older sister, Jennifer. Jennifer, just like Merchant, was also born with Cystic Fibrosis. When Merchant was around 10 years old, his parents divorced. Both he and his sister stayed with their mother.
However, one night when Merchant and his sister got into a fight, he called his father (who was living in Boston at the time) to come pick him up. However, once he and his father learned that his sister only had a year left to live, they moved back to Georgia together. Merchant’s sister passed away when she was 16 years old. He was 13 at the time.
Two months after Merchant’s sister passed away, his mother had a heart attack from being so heartbroken. The heart attack affected her diabetes and she slipped into a coma. She never woke up from that coma.
After losing two of their immediate family members, Merchant and his father moved back to Boston. Merchant resided in Boston until he was about 28. He moved to Colorado when he met a young woman from there, and they were together for three years. He lived in Colorado for five.
However, once they broke up, Merchant realized how much living in the mile-high city was effecting his breathing. His lung capacity had dropped from 35 percent to 25 percent.
Despite everything he has been through/is currently going through, Merchant remains optimistic. Because it was too difficult with his health problems, he had to leave his 9-5 office job. However, he has since started his own IT company that he runs from home.
Merchant currently resides in North Carolina with his father. After looking into Duke University, and discovering that it is one of the leading transplant centers in the United States, Merchant and his father decided that they should start pursuing surgery there.
Merchant’s gratitude for his father is tangible. He states that the two have never been closer than these past few years. Despite having two slipped discs in his back, Merchant’s father is up and ready immediately whenever Merchant needs something.
Merchant’s father is currently his main caretaker. Because this is the case, Merchant’s father is not able to have a full time job. This means that it is difficult for the pair to be able to afford everything that Merchant’s CF requires. Not only are there medical expenses, but there are also expenses for housing, food,transportation, uncovered medications, etc.
Unfortunately, Merchant and his father have still not been successful in finding an apartment/house that they can rent in North Carolina. Everything is either too old/moldy which is not an option for Merchant with his CF, or it is not a one-story ranch (Merchant cannot walk up stairs because of his lung capacity and his father cannot walk up stairs with his slipped discs).
At the current moment, Merchant’s lung capacity is at an all time low of 16 percent.
Merchant longs to receive this transplant not only so that he can live for himself, but even moreso so that his father can watch him grow up even more and get married. He doesn’t want his father to have a third immediate family member pass away during his lifetime. Merchant longs to live for his father and his English Bulldog, Fenway, named after the Ballpark in Boston.
Merchant asks for individuals to consider donating to his gofundme page so that he can live for his father, Fenway, and his future family that he hopes to have one day. Anyone interested in being a caretaker for him is also encouraged to reach out.
Merchant’s story of resilience is an incredible to say the least, and any size donation to help him received his double lung transplant helps.