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New Jersey students remember cystic fibrosis victim

Students at Rowan University, located in southern New Jersey, recently held a fundraising dance event to honor the memory of a former student who passed away from cystic fibrosis.

Readers may be surprised to learn that it is not unusual for someone college age to die from cystic fibrosis. Even with advances in treatment, the average life expectancy of those afflicted by the genetic pulmonary disorder is only 37.4 years old. A common cause of death for such patients is end stage lung disease.

For those born with this disease, treatment routines often must be followed daily. Due to a defective gene and its protein product, individuals with cystic fibrosis must fight away thick mucus that clogs the lungs and can lead to infection. As a result, common treatments include both medications and chest-clearing physical therapy.

Many with the condition are able to establish some work history, living with the condition for many years into their adulthood. However, the condition is progressive, and until a cure is found, the only available permanent solution is lung transplantation. In this case, the student was on the waiting list for a double lung transplant. Although a breathing mask helped buy some time, ultimately the wait proved too long.

Since the Social Security Administration recognizes cystic fibrosis in its severe stages as a disability, federal disability benefits assistance may be available when adults with the condition are no longer able to work. If the condition becomes severe earlier in life, Supplemental Security Income may be an option. A Social Security disability benefits attorney can answer such questions.

Source: nj.com, "Colette Bleistine to be memorialzed at 'Dance Away Cystic Fibrosis' at Rowan University," Michelle Caffrey, Jan. 31, 2013

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