WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
Full of smiles and giggles, five-year old Aubrey Inman, acts like any other soon to be kindergartener. Until it’s time for her take one of her daily treatments, you would never know this little spunky red head has cystic fibrosis.
In 2012, Tech. Sgt. Aimee Inman, Air Force Office of Special Investigations First Field Investigations Region, NCOIC Administration, and her husband Bryan, were thrilled to be expecting their first child. However, the excitement was short lived when at four month’s pregnant, they received devastating news that their daughter carried a mutation for cystic fibrosis.
“Once we found that out, we immediately started researching information to understand as much as we could,” said Aimee. “We learned that the symptoms for cystic fibrosis vary from person to person and in Aubrey’s case, she is pancreatic sufficient so it mainly affects her lungs.”
According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and American Lung Association, cystic fibrosis is a progressive genetic disorder that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. Cystic fibrosis affects a specific protein called Cystic Fibrosis Trans-Membrane Regulator (CFTR) that controls the normal movement of sodium, chloride, and water in and out of the cells. People with cystic fibrosis have too little or abnormal CFTR which causes the mucus to thicken.
The buildup of mucus can affect the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airway and can trap bacteria causing infections, extensive lung damage and eventually respiratory failure. More than 30,000 people are living with cystic fibrosis in the United States and the predicted survival age is close to 40.
In January and March, 2015, Aubrey was hospitalized for Pseudomonas, a bacterial infection in the lungs and is the major cause of lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis. Aubrey had to undergo an intensive antibiotic therapy for two years to treat the infection.
“At the time of Aubrey’s hospitalizations, I was pregnant with our second child and my husband was working a rotating schedule as an air traffic controller. We were scared and didn’t know what was going to happen to Aubrey,” said Aimee. “Bryan and I would tag team and taking shifts at the hospital but that was not conducive for our family. We made the decision that Bryan would separate from the Air Force for the betterment of our family.”
Aubrey receives treatments twice (and up to four times) a day depending on her health condition. Her daily treatment routine includes taking several medications, using a nebulizer and wearing a vest that that fills with air and pulses around the body to shake up the lungs to help break up the mucus.
And at every vest treatment, Aubrey’s “wing-girl”, three-year old sister Adalyn, will pull up her chair and keep her sister company until Aubrey is done.
The Inmans are dedicated to making Aubrey’s life as normal as possible.
“It’s very important to us that Aubrey lives her life,” said Aimee. “We do not want to keep her in a bubble, whatever is going to happen will happen and we will figure it out; always have, always will,” said Aimee. We want her to have a good life and enjoy her childhood.”
Aubrey said she likes to draw, swim and ride her bicycle. Her favorite food is “pasgetti” and added that she eats five bowls and her sister eats three. Her favorite color is rainbows and she wants to be a dancer when she grows up.
While reading on a cystic fibrosis support group page, Aimee learned about a non-profit organization created by former NFL player and Bachelorette contestant, Colton Underwood. The Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation provides resources and support of people living with cystic fibrosis so they can achieve dreams and goals regardless of their diagnosis.
The foundation started the Legacy Project which awards AffloVests to one person with cystic fibrosis in each state. An AffloVest is a cordless treatment vest allowing the user to be mobile during the 30 minute treatment and is much lighter and quieter. Regular treatment vests weigh about five pounds and are connected to heavy tubes that are operating from a noisy machine.
“I figured why not, what was the worst that could happen?” said Aimee. “So I filled out an application and I described how Aubrey’s red hair matched her smart, feisty and bold personality. About a year later, I was notified that Aubrey would be Ohio’s AffloVest recipient.”
At 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 12 at the University of Dayton’s Welcome Stadium, The Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation will be holding a Bicycle and Bootcamp for Cystic Fibrosis event. During the event, Aubrey and her family will be the fifth recipient to be presented with an AffloVest.
For additional information on cystic fibrosis, go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at www.cff.org and for the Bicycle and Bootcamp event, go to the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation at www.coltonslegacy.org.