Meet Olivia Lee Usner

Olivia was diagnosed in 2009, at the age of 7, with Cystic Fibrosis. This diagnosis came as a BIG shock! Olivia’s illness started when we seemed to be in the doctor’s office way too much. During the summer months, Olivia had developed pneumonia and was not showing signs of improvement with antibiotics. Olivia’s family doctor thought that maybe she had an autoimmune disorder and he sent us to the hospital for multiple tests. He decided to order a sweat test (the diagnostic test) for Cystic Fibrosis since Olivia was having issues involving her respiratory system. And the positive sweat test is where her battle against Cystic Fibrosis began.

Olivia is blessed in the fact that her pancreas has not currently been affected and it is working, as it should. But many with CF have pancreatic insufficiency and take pancreatic enzymes each time they eat to help absorb the nutrients.  Most people with CF have to increase their calorie intake 2-3x more then a person without CF.

Olivia’s lungs are affected and Olivia has daily medical therapies that include wearing a percussion vest that literally shakes and knocks the mucus loose in her chest so she can cough it up. The build up of sticky mucus can leave her highly susceptible to infection and can cause her to get short of breath. She inhales medicines through a nebulizer machine that opens up her airways and helps her to breathe better. Everyday she inhales a highly concentrated solution of salt. The defected gene in CF causes Olivia to loose salt at a rapid pace. Olivia takes oral antibiotics 3x a week to help keep the infections away.

Olivia is seen every 12 weeks (plus more if needed) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She has a large team of doctors and specialist that we see at every appointment including her pediatric pulmonary doctor, her nurse, the respiratory therapist, a physical therapist, a social worker, and a dietician. Olivia has to perform pulmonary function test (PFT’s) at every appointment. This test allows her doctor to know how well Olivia’s lungs are functioning. Olivia also gives a sputum culture at every appointment, which allows them to know if Olivia has picked up a certain bacteria and if she needs to be on another type of antibiotic.  We are very fortunate to have one of the best Cystic Fibrosis centers at CHOP! They have been keeping Olivia healthy and out of the hospital!

Olivia is now 15 years old and is in the 9th grade. She is a very active and intelligent young lady who enjoys playing basketball, lacrosse and volleyball. She is an avid sports fan and her favorite teams are the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, UNC Tarheels and the Oakland Raiders.