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Astakhov Aleksey, 23 years old

Date of birth: 15 July 1991.

Diagnosis: cystic fibrosis. The disease is slowly enfeebling Aleksey’s organism, making Aleksey lose strength. His lungs are not functioning properly so his body isn’t getting enough oxygen. An oxygen concentrator is needed to improve the ability of the lungs to function. But such devices cost a lot — 160,000 roubles, and Aleksey’s family doesn’t have the money.
30 July 2014

From Aleksey’s letter:

Until I was 11, I lived a normal life like all kids: went to school, played football, rode a bicycle. The only difference was that I often had acute respiratory diseases growing into pneumonia. At the age of 11 I found out the reason for it: a serious hereditary disease — cystic fibrosis. This disease is insidious, it affects almost all organs and is very difficult to treat.

My life changed. Inhalations, autogenic drainage, respiratory gymnastics, taking huge amounts of medicines, 3-4 courses of intravenous antibiotic therapy per year, — all that became an integral part of my life. Therefore, after finishing the 5th grade I had to study individually at home. I passed the Unified State Exams, entered the university. Five years of studying passed. I can’t say they were easy. Mostly it was distance learning, but when terminal examinations were held I had to be present. Sometimes I had to put off hospitalization and take an exam with a high fever. I climbed the stairs with difficulty, suffering from acute dyspnoea, my lungs were half-filled with phlegm, I stopped after every flight of steps. This way I made it to the room where the exam was held.

Over the years I’ve come to understand that the disease increased my endurance, made me stronger, made me fight for «a normal life». But it isn’t receding, I can’t forget about it even for a minute. Frequent exacerbations are weakening my lungs, it’s getting harder to breathe. Presently my lungs fail to maintain the necessary concentration of oxygen in the blood, so it has to be maintained with the help of an oxygen concentrator. Because of that, I was forced to take an academic leave in the autumn and to put off the writing and defence of the graduation thesis until better times.

The concentrator is stationary, electrically powered, and it allows me to move only within my room, which is 10 m2 in size, walking away from the concentrator for the length of the electric cable. Without it, even light-intensity physical activity causes the blood oxygen level to drop sharply. I can’t leave my «prison», can’t graduate from the university, nor can I communicate with my loved ones. The only solution is a portable concentrator with an accumulator. Having it I’ll have some hours a day to live. So much could be done in those several hours of real life!

But my family and I can’t afford that expensive medical device. The concentrator costs 160,000 roubles. Both of my parents are pensioners; my father still works, but he earns very little. My own pension isn’t enough even to pay for medicines. I can’t become «normal», but there is an opportunity for me to live a fuller life. I don’t know what can be more valuable. Help me, please!

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