Gloucester resident battles for his life following pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Feb 29, 2012 - 03:41 PM

Photo: Joe Ailstock of Gloucester hopes his neighbors in Gloucester and Mathews will give him the breath of life by helping to fund a lung transplant. Photo by Sherry Hamilton.

Joe Ailstock of Gloucester hopes his neighbors in Gloucester and Mathews will give him the breath of life by helping to fund a lung transplant. Photo by Sherry Hamilton.

Joe Ailstock didn’t tell his family right away when he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis a year ago. The 49-year-old Gloucester resident was too stunned when the doctor told him that, without treatment, his life expectancy was a mere two years at the outside.

"He told me I could go on for a couple of years or suddenly go real quick," he said. "I was just going for a check-up; I wasn’t expecting that at all."

After a few days, Ailstock finally told his wife and father, who insisted that he get a second opinion. He eventually went to Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and doctors there suggested a lung transplant. They held out hope for another three to 10 years and another transplant in the future.

Joe is clinging to that hope, but before he can get his second round of tests in May, he needs to come up with $15,000—$5,000 to pay for various medicines he’ll need after the surgery and $10,000 for living expenses for the six months he’ll have to live in Durham.

But that’s not all. The surgery and treatment will cost over $1 million, and Joe’s Medicare co-pay will be a fifth of that—over $200,000. Since Joe, an Air Force veteran, has only disability income and no personal savings, he and his family and friends are hoping the community will help out with the expenses.