I want to introduce you to Dylan. Dylan was born in Jamestown, Tennessee. Jamestown is a small city in the Appalachian region of approximately 2000 residents. It’s a town where everyone knows your name and everyone is family. All of Jamestown is excited to meet Dylan, but sadly he isn’t able to go home. Dylan has Newborn Respiratory Distress Syndrome (NRDS),
NRDS happens when a baby’s lungs don’t fully develop, and they can’t provide enough oxygen. Breathing difficulties and complications can result, and mortality rates can be as high as 60%.
Dylan was born at 1:22 in the morning. He was immediately taken from his mother’s waiting arms and put into a neonatal unit. Because his lungs were so severely underdeveloped; he needed to be put on a ventilator. A machine helped him take his first breaths in his life.
What went wrong? Why did this happen to Dylan?
Dylan’s parents are from the Appalachia. There, while his mother was pregnant, she was exposed to the effects of mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal coal mining is a very destructive form of mining that destroys most of the earth that lies under it. Single handily it has devastated the beauty and way of life of the Appalachian region.
Mountaintop removal produces toxic dusts. These dusts are loaded with combustion waste and fly-ash. This dust in the Appalachia is causing increased rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, liver disease, and kidney disease.
Close to the mountains where Dylan’s parents live, 63% of the stream beds near the coalfields
are “impaired”. All of that high toxic chemical and metal contamination is threatening the health of every human being that lives there. As a result, 14 of Appalachia's counties have water that exceeds the country’s safe drinking standards by more than seven percent.
Dylan’s mother doesn’t have an education and his father has been diagnosed with pneumoconiosis that will soon make him unable to work. Right now, Dylan is still being covered under his father’s insurance, but his father won’t be able to keep making those payments for much longer.
Just how bad is it really?
All of the pollution in the Appalachia is estimated to be costing public health upwards of 75 billion a year, and still no one who can is trying to stop it.
Dylan will need ongoing medical care if he is to survive. Doctors recently discovered that Dylan had bleeding inside of his lungs. A pulmonary hemorrhage is a common complication of NRDS. Dylan is less than two months old and he’s already had three lifesaving blood transfusions.
Human Health is Not The Only Thing Affected
Sadly, the devastation goes further than the loss of human health and life. Mountaintop removal has had permanent effects on the Appalachian landscape. It has caused irreparable ecosystem damage and total degradation.
In only six years, from 1985-2001, it has contributed to the permanent loss of more than 1 million acres of forests and 12,000 miles of streams that are crucial to the Appalachian watershed.
Dylan will never know the beautiful land that his grandparents once roamed freely on. He will never breathe the same clean air or swim in the same lakes and streams. Increased salinity and metal contamination have polluted the Appalachian streams causing toxic effects of many of its bird and fish species.
I know how upsetting all of this is to learn for the first time, and how this senseless destruction continues. Here at A Future for Appalachia we are fighting to make things changes and give back Appalachia to all of its inhabitants. Some of the things we actively do are:
Regular water testing
Policy advocacy – working to force government officials to address the coal ash crisis.
Energy savings for low income citizens
Financial help for those affected by the pollution and in critical need
We are helping Dylan and his family through this frightening critical time in their lives. It is caring people like you that are helping to make all the difference for them and their families with your continuing support.
Dylan’s mother stays at the hospital at her son’s bedside 24/7 while his father continues to work for as long as he can. Not all medical treatments are covered by their insurance and our support means that Dylan gets more chances to fight.
Your tax-deductible donation of $10, $20, $25 or whatever you choose will enable us to keep helping Dylan’s fight for survival. Your donation ensures that he won’t be alone, even on his darkest days.
You can choose a one-time payment or make a longer commitment and donate monthly. Every cent you give goes to help the people of Appalachia and their fight to take back what has been taken from them.
To offer our thanks for your kindness, for every gift of $20 or more we will send you a t-shirt that you can proudly wear. Embossed with our logo you can show your support of the people of Appalachia.
On behalf of everyone in Appalachia, we thank you kindly for your continuing support.
President of A Future for Appalachia
P.S. It is our dream that no child in Appalachia is ever born again with NRDS. Together we can make that a reality. Thank you again for your generous support. Please give generously.