Colorado Springs teen in desperate need of new lungs

A Colorado teen is in need of a lung transplant after a routine wisdom teeth removal surgery led to the discovery of a rare autoimmune disease. (Source: KKTV)
Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 10:26 PM MDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2023 at 8:40 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Lonnie Pesterfield was a normal, healthy teen going into his routine wisdom tooth surgery last October.

“He was the healthiest child I had. He never got sick ever; the last time he was sick was when he was 6 years old and got the flu,” said Lonnie’s mother, Stephanie Pesterfield.

But shortly after his wisdom teeth were removed, things took a turn for the worst: Lonnie ended up in the ER after coughing up blood. He was declared septic, and within 48 hours of that, he was placed on a ventilator in the ICU.

After a series of tests and conversations with doctors, he was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called ANCA+ Vasculitis.

“Vasculitis means inflammation of blood vessels,” physician Dr. Richard Vu said. “Vasculitis is an autoimmune condition where your own immune system attacks your own healthy cells.”

Stephanie says his condition is constantly changing with hospital visits in Aurora, a three-hour round trip road trip for the family. Stephanie says Lonnie has since been discharged from the hospital, but there is still a long road ahead.

“It looks like his journey is gonna be a lot longer, a lot harder, and I’m not gonna be able to work like I used to at all for a very, very, very long time,” Stephanie said.

Lonnie is now being evaluated to hopefully get on the lung transplant waiting list in May, something the family never thought they would have to go through. As Lonnie keeps fighting, his family is adapting to their new reality.

“I’m like, ‘How did we get here?’” Stephanie said.