Local Business Owner Remains Hopeful As She Waits For Transplant

A local businesswoman awaits a phone call about a double lung transplant that could save her life. Newswatch reporter Anna Saunders sat down with the co-owner of Beckley’s Jean Ann’s Bridal today to discuss her daily battle with her rare condition and all the ways she stays positive. 

“You take for granted so much until you just can’t breathe,” Jennifer Skaggs said. 

For Jennifer Skaggs, something as simple as taking a shower can be a daily challenge. 

“I was born with a condition called situs inversus where my heart, my liver, my appendix, everything is on the opposite side of the average person,” she said. “Now with that, most people can actually live a normal life, but I was also born with an even rarer condition called Kartagener’s Syndrome also known as Primary Cilla Dyskinesia which means there’s cilia in my body however it doesn’t move.”

Despite having this condition since birth, it wasn’t until after Skaggs won Ms. West Virginia America in 2015 that she began to see the drastic decline in her health.

“They sent me to Cleveland Clinic and we got evaluated and Cleveland Clinic said yes, you got 1 to 2 years on the lungs you have now,” she said. “Hearing that was devastating. I mean, my heart sank.” 

What keeps her going is her family and the community 

“You have to find positivity in the smallest things because I’m confined to home so much that I just really just look for the small things and those are those things,” Skaggs said. 

As she continues to move up on the transplant list, she stays close to phone ready for the call. 

“Someone has to pass away for me to get my lungs so there’s a family out there’s that mourning, so it’s going to be a mixture of so many emotions but I cannot wait for that call. I really can’t,” she said. 

For now, her bags remain packed for when that day comes. 

You can donate to her GoFundMe page raising the $25,000 needed for the operation here: https://www.gofundme.com/my-first-breath

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.