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Rachelle Needs Your Help

My wife, Rachelle Ledbetter, has been suffering from pulmonary problems since she was a child. Eight years ago, she was diagnosed with severe Bronchiectasis. Her doctors have told us that her only option now is a life-saving lung transplant.

Updates (36)

May 3, 2021

Hello friends and family! Meaghan Skye here (eldest daughter). As most of you know from Facebook or other social media platforms, our prayers have been answered. Saturday May 1st, 2021, Rachelle received the bilateral lung transplant we have ALL been waiting for.

Since receiving this 5th and final call the morning of Friday 4/30, we have all be in an altered state. A true rollercoaster of emotions! It has been a chaotic few days to say the least, mostly due to the overlap with Steve and Rachelle’s ‘move date’ to the coast and the ‘move-in’ date of three Sequoia National Park employees into our family home. So as Mom and Dad made their way to UCLA for the transplant, I headed to 3R to pack their ‘summertime’ belongings to go to LA, their ‘wintertime’ belongings into storage, and with the help of my sister, Sierra, her boyfriend, Skyler, and our cousin, Evan, we tried to sort it all out. I’m still wrapping up things here at the compound, and Sierra will swing by later today to pick up our parents’ beloved four-leggeds, Sadie and Pinto. What can I say? Teamwork makes the dreamwork!!

And speaking of teamwork, you guys, WOW. You are the most awesome team there is! Texts, calls, prayer chains, aide in finding LA housing, and truly endless support– the Swinney/Ledbetter family FEELS YOUR LOVE. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

As of today, May 3rd (Steve and Rachelle’s 35th wedding anniversary!), things are going pretty darn well. Some of you may have already seen my posts of Mom, post-surgery. Yesterday they took her off the ventilator, and we are happy to report, she is breathing on her own! In typical Rachelle fashion, she may have gotten a tad too excited yesterday at her high o2 stats, so today she is feeling more tired and somewhat nauseous from her meds. But overall, she is in a really good place! Dad has barely left her side and the two of them are so happy to be spending this significant anniversary right where they are. We are all exceedingly grateful.

If you are feeling chartable after all this good news, please don’t let my longwinded update get in your way! You have helped us in the past, but the fundraising is not over. There are many costs in this journey not covered by insurance such as housing in LA for the next few months as Rachelle recovers, food and fuel for all her caretakers (we will take turns!), and of course, the high cost of anti-rejection medication that will become her new normal. Every donation, however small, goes a long way! If you are unable to give at this time but would like to help out, feel free to share Rachelle’s story to your community, and/or continue to hold her and her new lungs in your heart.

Lastly I’d like to say how eternally grateful we are to the donor and their family. We have hardly had the mental space to fully process what this all means, but we do not want to ignore the fact that such an enormous gift to our family comes in the wake of a great loss for another. Please take a moment to send some love and prayers to the family of the donor, in their time of great grief.

Please enjoy this video taken yesterday, shortly after Mom came off the ventilator. What she says is what we’ve all be praying for. “I’m breathing on my own.”

Blessings and Love,
Meaghan, Sierra, Steve and our rockstar, Rachelle

July 18, 2020

Day 18: Operation Medical Relocation to the Coast
I can finally breathe again. I noticed the change after fourteen days in Morro Bay. When I arrived on July 1, I was in yet another compromised health condition. The final two weeks of June in the Central Valley had done me in with temperatures rising and the air deteriorating rapidly. The sure sign of increased breathlessness, not being able to move without my O2 stats plummeting; increased mucus production and greater fatigue. It was time for me to go coastal.
It was quite a roller coaster getting here with three potential rentals falling through for various reasons. Finally securing a July home on June 30th, it was time. Though my body wants to go into anxiety mode due to all the changes in plans, this process has cemented my trust in God, knowing that the perfect place is waiting at the right time, albeit the last minute in this case.
Steve and I drove separate cars and begin setting up camp at the cutest, funkiest 1940’s place that exuded a well loved family home on the bay. It was well suited for us!
Then the healing began. Steve has taken on the roll of task master- the one who makes me exercise. This is no easy feat as I can be very manipulative and convincing on why I can’t walk today. Determination was all over him however. With COPD, the lungs say “no thank you” to any form of movement, which is why it’s absolutely critical to get moving. It builds up lung capacity. And walk I did. At first, 2000 steps daily was my goal, 3000 by the end of the month. The first week was walk a few steps, stop. Walk a few more, stop. By the end of Week One, 2000 steps was the norm.
It was the second week when a huge shift occurred. Steve and I took a short drive to Cayucos Pier and something kicked in. Invigorated, ocean air filling my battered lungs, we reached the end of the pier with 6-8 stops. On the return, the Ledbetter drive kicked in and I took off leaving Steve and Sadie behind me. I was home. I was breathing. I was crying at the obvious turnaround in my lung capacity and energy level. This is why I come to the coast. To get a sense of life back, to be involved, to breathe, to be somewhat normal. Once again, I know I will be sticking around a bit longer.
My gratitude to all who have supported me on this journey: my three Rivers community, my anonymous Patron, the outpouring of prayers, love and financial gifts. I continue to be in absolute awe of the numerous blessings while going through the storm. My heart overflows. #gratitude #gonecoastal #justbreatheagain #oceanair

Photo Galleries (3)

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June 8, 2021

Keeping Rachelle in my prayers.

Peggy Mayes

June 1, 2021

Rachelle, aka “ Shelly” to her Agnes Irwin School classmates and friends, “ You Got this !” ❣️ XoXo Mary

Mary Masters Opila

May 12, 2021

Love and healing from the wilds of Wyoming.

jenn burton

May 12, 2021

Stay strong, family! Rebecca and I are thinking of you and praying that things continue to go in the right direction. This small gift is accompanied by so much love. You inspire us, Rachelle, Steve, Meaghan, and Sierra!

Margie Luck