While searching for the underlying cause of Shawn’s uncontrolled asthma, he was found to be positive for a genetic condition

Cookeville Regional Mecical Center Pulmonology patient Shawn McClain has had asthma most of his life.

In 2020, he battled hard against COVID-19 for two months. He finally began to recover, but he noticed he was having difficulty breathing, especially when he was outside working.

“I have been around excavation since I was a young boy. After four years of serving in the Marine Corps, I decided it was time to open my own company in excavation, so I am outside constantly,” said McClain. I began to develop this cough and had a hard time breathing. I thought it was because of my battle with COVID. I went to a pulmonologist at Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s Pulmonology practice. There, I met Nurse Practitioner Dana Kilgore, who never gave up on finding out what was going on with me.”

Kilgore performed many specific scans and blood tests on McClain to see if they could discover the underlying cause of his difficulty breathing.

“This cough that developed on Shawn was horrific for him. It disrupted his work, sleep and life. He could not even wear his CPAP machine because he was coughing so badly. He and his wife, Lori, were on the mission for answers, and we were going to find them,” said Kilgore.  “We found that he had severe persistent asthma, but that wasn’t the whole story.”

While searching for the underlying cause of Shawn’s uncontrolled asthma, he was found to be positive for Alpha1 genotype Z/I, which is a rare form of Alpha1 antitrypsin deficiency and is a genetic condition. They found this by doing a blood test, but it can also be discovered through a cheek swab.

“This particular genotype put him not only at risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but at greater risk for liver disease,” said Kilgore. “Because of this discovery, he had a thorough workup of his liver and was referred to the Liver and Kidney Transplant Center since that is outside our scope of practice. Thankfully, we caught this early, and no serious hepatic abnormalities were found, but he will continue close monitoring since this is a serious genotype.”

McClain exclaimed, “Dana was my advocate. She never gave up on finding out what was going on with me. When we needed a test done, she called the VA (Veterans Affairs) and advocated for coverage of the scan cost because we had done several. She called my wife at night because she was researching my condition for answers and kept saying, “We’re going to fix it.” I can truly say I wasn’t just a patient. It wasn’t about making money; it was about me.”

Now, back to life and working outside easily, McClain encourages others to never give up on the battle to find answers.

He continued, “Even after I was better, she still called and made sure I was doing well. Find someone who will advocate for you. I had an outstanding experience and would highly recommend CRMC pulmonology to anyone. I also want to encourage people to be proactive, communicate with their doctor and not give up.”

For more information on Cookeville Regional Medical Center visit HERE.

Photo courtesy of CRMC.

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