Ron Taylor is a smoker who has the lungs of a 126-year-old man.
According to the Alpha-1 Foundation’s website and the Memorial University Gazette, his diagnosis started when he went to the doctor several years ago. The doctor, in disbelief at the test results, was stunned and was convinced the test machine was broken.
He tested Ron Taylor again-and got the same result. At that point, no one suspected a rare disease such as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (A1AD).
Mr. Taylor has severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
The doctor solemnly told Mr. Taylor that he would be on disability for the rest of his life. Mr. Taylor’s life quickly changed after this. At the young age of 30, he could not work, he could barely breathe, and he lived in pain and fear of death. Mr. Taylor had to wait a year and a half to get his first disability insurance check and in the meantime, he lost his home and his vehicle and ended up living on a friend’s couch until their friendship dissolved.
Mr. Taylor was in and out of the hospital many times. He tried different medicines and puffers to calm his condition but nothing seemed to work and his COPD would not level out but in fact got worse.
Not shortly after, Mr. Taylor found himself with a new rare diagnosis: alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, which is a rare genetic disorder that limits the alpha-1-antitrypsin in the body.
This important protein helps protect the lungs. Mr. Taylor’s situation was getting even more dire. It was made even worse by the fact that he was an avid smoker.
At 32 years of age, Mr. Taylor found himself not working, broke, and not getting better. He finally picked up the phone and called his mother to tell her he was coming home to die.
About 2/3 of people who smoke have a strong desire to quit. Each year smokers try to quit and every year few succeed. Smoking is an addiction, and simply telling someone they need to quit for their health rarely works. Even Mr. Taylor, who knew that smoking made his condition worse and his death imminent, could not stop the deadly habit.
Before his A1AD diagnosis, Mr. Taylor’s doctor told him if he didn’t stop smoking respiratory failure would kill him.
However, despite this ominous prognosis, Mr. Taylor was only able to stop for one brief stint and after an unsuccessful round of treatment that caused him painful blisters on his mouth, he looked for consolation in the cigarettes again. It wasn’t until his dad saw an advertisement for a Smoking Cessation Program and Mr. Taylor decided to join in January of this year, that he found new found hope.
Mr. Taylor now works with a doctor who has him on a successful regimen of quit medicine that has kept him away from the cigarettes. Equally important is Mr. Taylor’s counseling which helps him avoid emotional triggers that may provoke him to smoke again.
While once Mr. Taylor’s life was over and he thought there was no hope or chance of happiness for him, now quitting smoking has changed his life. Mr. Taylor now spends his days at the Topsail Beach and hanging out with his 11-year-old son, as well as regularly attending his medical appointments.
Mr. Taylor hopes to eventually make it to a lung transplant list and finally breathe easily.