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Goodpaster prepared for transplant any day now

If Christian Goodpaster is ever going to perfect the art of fly-fishing, he should be practicing in the Florida Keys right now. Or at least going after catfish from a boat on the Ohio River.
‘My favorite pastime is fishing,’ he said. ‘All of my buddies, teachers, family and anyone who knows anything about me knows I’m a big fisherman, and a serious one at that.’
Apparently, he has the patience it takes.
He’s been waiting about 2-1/2 years for the lung transplant he desperately needs to survive. That could come at any time now, said Christian, 18, Elizabeth.
He has cystic fibrosis but has been in fairly good health since he was placed on the transplant list in October 2000.
That changed last October and continued through Thanksgiving and Christmas, when he was plagued with fever and infections. He was hospitalized at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville in November, and, once released, traveled to North Carolina for a transplant appointment. Once there, he wound up in the emergency room at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and was hospitalized for a week.
Cystic fibrosis is a general disorder of exocrine glands and is marked especially by a deficiency of pancreatic enzymes, respiratory symptoms and excessive loss of salt in sweat.
‘In some patients,’ Christian said, ‘cystic fibrosis can affect the pancreas, liver, digestive system, although mainly affecting the lungs in the majority of patients.
‘I am in a sense lucky I haven’t had many of the other problems some CF patients face,’ Christian said. ‘My lungs have been the primary problem of my cystic fibrosis.
‘Growing up, I would be put in the hospital from time to time … After being listed on the transplant list on Oct. 13, 2000, I’ve stayed fairly healthy,’ he said. ‘The past two years I’ve been able to go to school and, as long as I take my time, to do about what I want.’
In February, Christian was back in the hospital, this time at Norton, with another lung infection.
‘I was having a hard time keeping up. Between trying to fight infections and going to school, I was getting really tired,’ he said.
Christian reached a decision. ‘After a few weeks of consideration with family and doctors,’ he said, ‘I personally made the decision it was time to be relocated to await a transplant.
‘At the time of my decision … I was no longer holding my own, being sick often and not being able to complete school,’ he said. ‘In March, I returned to UNC and told the doctors I had reached a decision and felt, from how sick I have been, taking risks on waiting longer for the transplant outweighed the risks of a transplant.’
He and his mother, Terri Sutherland, moved some 568 miles from their home in Elizabeth to an apartment in Durham, N.C., to be closer to the UNC when the call comes. Christian carries a pager at all times and is on the ‘active bilateral lung transplant’ list.
‘When we relocated April 7, I went ‘active,’ ‘ he said Monday. ‘Now I’m awaiting a matching set of lungs.
‘It could be tomorrow or six months down the road. I really don’t know.’
Christian’s stepfather, Ernest, is taking care of things at home. He’s an extruder operator at Daramic, where Terri works in quality control. She’s on leave to care for her son.
Christian’s father, Wilburn Goodpaster Jr. of Corydon, works in construction.
Terri said her son has been doing ‘pretty well,’ but she’s not sure how his recovery will proceed. ‘It depends on the person,’ she said, adding that after surgery, rejection could set in. The entire transplant process is difficult, and many people aren’t aware of the donation program.
‘You can’t just go to Wal-Mart and get a set of lungs,’ she said. ‘One person has to die to give the other person life.’
Although she’s sure Christian will be up to the challenge when the call comes, she said, ‘When that happens, I’m sure I’ll be hysterical. Christian is a strong person. When I’m down, he’s the one who picks me up. It should be the other way around.’
Others in the family are also anxious about the procedure. ‘We hope and pray that he will be OK, and we love him very much,’ said his grandmother, Margie Schuppert, speaking for herself and Christian’s grandfather, Donald. ‘We will do anything we can to help him.’
Since moving to Durham, Christian said he’s resting well and feels better because there’s not such a strain on his body to go to school. Still, he misses his friends.
‘It’s probably hard for them to realize how sick I was there,’ Christian said. ‘My friends have been there for me from Day One. I’ve had ups and downs in school, but they have always been there to see me through it. It’s something we really appreciate.’
Christian admits he’s not a straight A student in school and makes mostly Bs.
South Central Junior-Senior High School principal Jim Crisp has known Christian since he entered seventh grade.
‘He’s just a wonderful child,’ Crisp said. ‘He is so courageous and has such a wonderful attitude. He has been a real blessing for us, a real example.’
Funds raised for him in the community pay for expenses insurance doesn’t cover, like travel and rent for the apartment. Christian could not stay at the less expensive Ronald McDonald House due to the risk of infection from others there who might be contagious.
The financial contributions have ‘been a big help for us, traveling back and forth, but it’s going to take a lot more,’ Christian said.
‘The Christian Goodpaster Fund’ has been opened at First Harrison Bank for those who wish to help the family with expenses.
Christian welcomes e-mails at [email protected]
‘I made it a goal before I came down here that if I was able to, to perfect my fly-casting abilities, to do that if my transplant goes well. I can fly fish the Keys, which is the premiere type of fishing down there.’
After high school, Christian plans to study journalism in college, ‘although I would sincerely love to be a flats guide in the Keys for bonefish, tarpon, redfish, and permit. After transplant, I plan on earning my captain’s license.’
Christian calls himself ‘a country boy because when I’m around doctors and nurses and they hear of the things I’ve done, they say, ‘You must be from the country.’ Although I can’t do much of any of these things anymore since getting sicker, I never forget the experiences and memories I’ve shared.
‘Life is good, and we shouldn’t take a second for granted.’