Rockwood teen with cystic fibrosis approved for double lung transplant


A young East Tennessee girl is getting the chance to breathe easy for the first time in her life.

Kaylie McNeal, 15, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby.

For years, Kayli has been in and out of hospitals while carrying an oxygen tank, but recently she’s been approved for a lifesaving surgery.

At two weeks old, Kayli was diagnosed with CF. It’s something she’s been living with her whole life.

“It’s been a real struggle,” said her mom, Aundria McNeal.

To breathe better, the 15-year-old is on a number of treatments which take up hours of her time every day.

“It’s a nebulizer and I’ve got to do it while a machine shakes me every morning and night. Then, right now I’m on oxygen 24/7,” said Kayli.

The teen says it’s like breathing through a straw. Her mom says in the last four years, Kayli’s health has gone down drastically and right now is a scary time.

“It’s to the point where the doctors say it’s where either she gets it and lives longer or she’s not going to be around much longer.” said McNeal.

There is good news. Kayli has been approved for a double lung transplant at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

“I think she’s excited. She’s scared. It’s heartbreaking when you can’t help your kid,” said McNeal.

She says the family does have serious worries though,

“They said it was $800,000 just for the surgery. You know, she has insurance, but it’s the moving down there and post-transplant,” she said.

The McNeals say the surgery is going to happen no matter what because Kayli has goals for when she’s back home breathing on her own.

“Be with my friends, being able to actually run and play with them.” said Kayli.

The family says they’re leading by faith and they ask East Tennessee to pray for them.

“Jesus take the wheel. Do what we got to do,” added Aundria McNeal.

To make sure Kayli gets this life-saving surgery, the community is rallying behind her throwing fundraisers and benefits. A GoFundMe account has been created to help pay for living expenses while the McNeals are in Cincinnati.

A soup dinner will be held on Saturday, February 2, at Rockwood High School, located at 512 W Rockwood St., from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.. Proceeds will be going toward’s Kayli’s double lung transplant.

A benefit auction is being held on February 16 at 6:30 p.m. in Harriman at 1238 South Roane Street. Donations to be auctioned off can also be brought by that location Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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