Recently, Dr. Eric Austin, a research doctor, and Lisa Wheeler, a research nurse coordinator, from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., traveled to visit the family of Howard and Mildred Motley.
Dr. Austin and Ms. Wheeler are researching the rare lung disease, Primary Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PPAH). Since multiple members of the Motley family have been diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, they were asked to participate in the research study.
The family members affected are: Howard Motley, his daughters, Kim Lathrop and Shelia White and his grandchildren, Matthew White, Racheal White and Cristin White, who passed away in 1994 from the disease. Having this many people affected in one family is very uncommon.
Eric Austin, M.D., M.S.C.I. and his colleagues are working to determine the cause of PPAH. The disease is progressive, often fatal and affects children and adults of all ages. Primary Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension is a type of pulmonary hypertension, in which high blood pressure in the blood vessels connecting the heart to the lungs causes changes to the blood vessels. This in turn, makes it difficult for the heart to pump enough blood to the lungs. These changes produce a constant state of high blood pressure in the vessels of the lungs. Eventually, the strain placed on the heart leads to heart failure.
Dr. Austin told the family that they are the largest family affected by PAH in the research study at Vanderbilt. He also informed the family that their participation in research study has helped doctors in understanding how the disease functions and helped doctors acquire the knowledge they need in order to find a cure. The family has participated in multiple research studies since 1995. One study took place in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Cleveland Clinic. They underwent numerous tests, such as the bone marrow biopsy and breathing tests. The family has also donated blood to many hospitals and clinics to further research for a cure.
During the visit, Dr. Austin and Ms. Wheeler took blood samples, did skin biopsies and performed breathing tests on the family. Those participating in the study were, Howard Motley, Howard Motley, Jr., Kim, John and Tom Lathrop, Ashley Murphy and son, Troy Grote, Shelia, Matt, and Racheal White, Lori and Emily Henson. Kevin Henson and David White participated in the breathing test.
The family feels very blessed that they can take part in the research process of PPAH. As they hope that this will someday help their family along with other families that are affected with this disease. They pray that someday there will be a cure for PPAH.