A young father with ‘80-year-old’ lungs has only one wish

MIAMI HERALD | Daniel Chang

Andres Perez with one of his 10-month-old twins. Perez has cystic fibrosis, which requires him to take twice daily breathing treatments and lots of antibiotics. Jose A. Iglesias
For as long as he can remember, Andres Perez has scheduled his life around the twice-daily breathing treatments that keep him alive.

Every morning and every night, Perez slips into a pressurized vest that squeezes and shakes free the mucus that clogs his lungs. Then he inhales a vaporized mixture of antibiotics and other medications that help to keep his airways clear.

Each session can take up to two hours, Perez said, and with each improving breath he tries to imagine a future where his movements are not limited by the inherited, life-threatening disease he was diagnosed with in early childhood, cystic fibrosis.

“My lungs are like an 80-year-old person’s lungs,” says Perez, who turns 30 in February.

Because cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and gastric juices — making them thick and sticky — Perez also takes enzymes to help him digest his food. And he injects insulin to control his cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.

“It kind of puts a damper on your outlook because you fight so hard and you know there’s not much you can do,” Perez says of his progressive disease. “It sucks.” Continue reading