HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - On June 26, 1996, Lynn and Fitzgerald McQueen welcomed their son Gerald into the world. The pregnancy was healthy, but a few months after his birth they noticed something was wrong.
"He had this cold we just couldn't shake," said Fitzgerald McQueen.
After months of doctor's visits, they received the heartbreaking news. On his first birthday, Gerald was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.
The diagnosis turned the family’s world upside down, and started a 15-year journey of surgeries, countless hospital stays, and financial struggle.
"Unless you live it, I can’t explain it. If you haven’t had a child in a crib with wires galore hooked up to them, you won’t understand it," said Fitzgerald. "If you haven’t had to make a choice of do I get this medication or pay that bill, you won’t understand it. Every day you have a choice to make.”
Two years ago the McQueen's made the choice to split apart the family, Gerald and his mother, Lynn, would move to St. Louis, while his father and sister would stay in Alabama, so he could have the chance of getting a double lung transplant.
However the doctor's said Gerald wasn't sick enough to qualify for the surgery.
"They sent us home and said you’re going to have to watch him deteriorate over the next two years," said Lynn Mcqueen.
Now at 16 years old, Gerald is eligible for the $550,000 surgery. The McQueens know their son’s future if the surgery isn’t done. So now, after years of sacrifice, they’re asking for help, as they prepare to move to St. Louis.
"We have our family here and they’ve done as much as they can do," said Lynn. "But over the years things build up, bills get backlogged and medical bills are there. So we’re in a bind."
Even though the move is daunting, and Gerald future uncertain, the family has found the strength they need, through watching their son.
“I don't think about before [the surgery], just think about after," said Gerald. "It’s going to be a lot more fun. A lot more …free.”
His father, Fitzgerald, keeps the same positive outlook.
"He’s going to do it, we’re going to do it as a family, as a team, as a community. I think collectively we all have to work to get him another set of lungs, so he can have more birthdays."
How Can You Help?
Gerald and his family will be holding a video game tournament fundraiser on Sunday, May 19th.
- When: Noon - 4 p.m.
- Where: Bob Jones High School Gym
- Tickets are $10 per person, or $20 per family of 5.
Alabama Football tickets, a three-day vacation, and golf passes will be sold in a silent auction. They will also have a drawing for door prizes.
You can purchase tickets for the event, donate to help the family's cause, or learn more about Gerald's story at his website Gerald's Second Breath.