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Newlyweds Michele and Gary thought they had their entire lives ahead of them, but sadly, their life took a drastic turn. Michele suffers from scleroderma, a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause significant damage to the skin and internal organs. Just four short months after their wedding, Michele says the disease attacked her lungs and she almost lost her life twice. She says she's now on oxygen 24 hours a day and barely leaves her house.

According to Michele's doctor, a stem cell transplant is her best chance of regaining the ability to breathe on her own. But, Michele says, her insurance company denied her claim. Lisa called, and the company maintained their position that stem cell transplants are an unproven treatment for scleroderma.

However, Michele's doctor confirms that stem cell transplants have been benefiting patients with sclerorderma for more than seven years. Michele and Gary say they'll continue to raise funds in hopes of reaching the estimated $160,000 needed for the transplant.
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FROM: Sick in America: It Can Happen to You
Published on January 01, 2006

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