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BENEFIT TO AID DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT

Peggy Phillips is not alone in the fight of her life.

The 39-year-old Cambria housewife with a degenerative lung disease needs a double lung transplant to survive. She is on a waiting list at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

To help cover medical expenses, a group of church friends will hold a fund-raiser from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday in Pekin Fire Hall, 3024 Upper Mountain Road, Sanborn.

The benefit is sponsored by Rainbow of Help, a group of about a dozen people whose family members have suffered a catastrophic illness or accident, said Bob MacFarlane, the group's president.

Phillips was diagnosed with severe pulmonary emphysema in 1995 and listed for a lung transplant in 1997. Her illness and her wait have taken her from Buffalo General Hospital to the Cleveland Clinic and now to Pittsburgh.

With an oxygen canister around her waist and breathing through tubes in her nose, she does pulmonary rehabilitation exercises twice a week in Mount St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston.

Phillips and her husband, Michael, a BFI equipment operator, have three children, Shane, 17; Justin, 15; and Keith, 11.

"The years have passed, but not without some struggle," said Phillips, who says her strong religious faith helps her cope. "The weight of tomorrow is heavy, and death could prevail. But I have a profound thankfulness for today."

She is also thankful for the "great zeal" shown by fellow members of Ransomville Free Methodist Church and Rainbow of Help for their spiritual and fund-raising support.

The benefit at the fire hall will include a pasta dinner and ticket auction.

Rainbow of Help was founded in 1998 after MacFarlane's daughter, Melissa, was left paralyzed from the waist down from a car accident.

Now 24, his daughter, known to her friends as Missy, is a graduate of Niagara County Community College and a part-time activities assistant at a Newfane nursing home.

MacFarlane, manager of a Lockport construction company, is pinning his hopes on stem cell research to help his daughter.

Phillips' hopes rest on the double lung transplant. She is scheduled to visit the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in March.

e-mail: bmichelmore@buffnews.com

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