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Northern Kentucky woman awaits life-saving procedure

CINCINNATI (WXIX) – A Northern Kentucky woman is on medical leave from her teaching job at Beechwood High School as she waits to find out if she qualifies for a life-saving medical procedure.

Lindsey Hughes is a mom, wife and teacher.

Her life has been flipped upside down after a diagnosis of Systemic Scleroderma in October.

“Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune disease that affects the connective tissue, skin, and internal organs,” explains Hughes, “And it’s caused when there’s too much collagen being produced in the body.”

Hughes has been sick with a host of other diagnoses since 2017. But now that she has the scleroderma diagnosis, she hopes for a stem cell transplant.

With no cure for scleroderma, this is simply a way to treat the disease and improve quality of life.

“The goal of the stem cell transplant, the first goal is to stop the progression of the disease,” Hughes continues, “Right now, it is progressing so quickly that prognosis is not good for me. And the other goal is to try to get me back to being a functional mom, wife, teacher.”

Not only is the procedure expensive, but it also is up to her insurance to determine if she qualifies for the treatment.

“It really depends on insurance. We submit to insurance, and then they have two weeks to reply,” says Hughes, “And oftentimes they decline because most insurance companies still consider stem cell transplant for scleroderma patients as experimental.”

Hughes’ supporters started a GoFundMe to help pay for the procedure, which also comes with a lengthy treatment plan requiring her to live in Michigan for months after the transplant.

“Time is paramount. I’m anxious to get started, but I’m also terrified,” Hughes admits, “Because there is a mortality risk with it, and I’m sad to be leaving my daughter for so long.”

Hughes says the support from her family, friends and even strangers has been encouraging.

“I think it just says that people are good and generous and kind and want to help others, and it gives you a little more faith in humanity,” Hughes says.

Hughes should find out in a couple of weeks if insurance has approved the procedure and if her lungs are strong enough to undergo surgery. But she’s not giving up. She says she will pursue other options if this procedure is not possible.

She has a message for anyone out there going through something similar.

“Not to be cliché, make sure the people who you love know you love them,” Hughes says.

A fundraiser is coming up this Sunday at Braxton Barrel House in Fort Mitchell from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be a silent auction there.

You can see other fundraisers on this Facebook page.

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