A genetic disease that strikes the lungs and digestive track is not slowing 15 month old Landon McKee down. Doctors diagnosed little Landon three weeks after birth with cystic fibrosis. He is a happy, playful 15 month old who is walking and talking.
"It's one of those diseases you can look at someone and not know they have it," said Tiffany McKee, Landon's mother.
Cystic Fibrosis is caused by a gene mutation passed by parents who must both be carriers for the disease. Tiffany and her husband Brett fit the criteria and had a 25 percent chance of having a child with the disease. The mutated gene causes thick sticky mucus to form in Landon's lungs and digestive track which can cause serious health problems like infections and improper nutrition.
"As a dad you know I love sports, but he has this disease and I'm like how's he going to be able to play sports or he's going to be able to go hunting with me?" questioned Brett McKee, Landon's father.
The National Institute of Health reports the average life span of those with Cystic Fibrosis is only 37 years because the chronic disease can cause or attract respiratory infections.
"But 40 years ago it was only 8 years old," added Tiffany McKee. "They're living longer because we're finding out sooner," continued Tiffany.
Landon gets a breathing treatment through a mask once a day, percussion or tapping on his chest and back to break up mucus, and he takes enzymes to help him absorb nutrients blocked by mucus in the digestive track. This may sound like a lot, but for others with the disease it can be much worse.
"Some are on feeding tubes because they can't gain weight even with the enzymes," said Tiffany.
"I honestly believe that in his lifetime we will see a cure," continued Tiffany.
"That's what you hope for everyday...that we'll be able to look on the Internet or the news and hear about that," said Brett.
A cure some 30,000 affected Americans are hoping will come soon.
To help support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation you can join this year's Great Strides Walk in Lake Charles. The event is Saturday, September 24, 2011, at Veteran's Memorial Park. Registration begins at 9am.