Frontier grad in need of third lung transplant

Photo Provided Travis Flores and his family receive the inaugural Travis Flores Legacy Award earlier this month. The award was created in honor of Travis’ work in helping Make a Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

MARIETTA, Ohio — Travis Flores, a Washington County native and Frontier High School graduate, is seeking a third lung transplant in order to save his life.

The actor, writer and motivational speaker has given much of his nearly 28 years to helping others dealing with illness and raising awareness about cystic fibrosis, the disease that is threatening his life.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the genetic disease prevents needed nutrients from getting to the lungs, which increases mucus production. This mucus clogs the lungs, and traps bacteria, causing infections, inflammation and eventual respiratory failure.

Teresa Flores, Travis’ mother, said advancements in fighting the disease have increased life expectancy from 5 years of age up to the mid to late 20s. Travis is almost 28, and he is still waging a war for survival.

“It’s a battle, a struggle, a fight to stay alive,” she said Tuesday.

One of the major hurdles facing Travis, Teresa said, is that it’s very rare for someone to get a third lung transplant. Travis’ body recently rejected lungs that were transplanted in 2015, forcing him back into the hospital. Travis is currently receiving treatment for his illness and wasn’t able to be interviewed.

“There have only been around 27 (people who have received three lung transplants) worldwide,” she said. “You have to take into consideration there are people waiting for their first transplant.”

Teresa said they have been looking across the country for a medical facility that will put him on an organ transplant waiting list.

“Duke University turned him down,” she said. “We have applications out in Cleveland and Pittsburgh right now.”

She said Travis will also be looking into hospitals in Massachusetts, Houston, Colorado and Florida that might accept him.

Travis lives and works in Los Angeles when he is not hospitalized.

Teresa said people can donate to help pay Travis’ medical and living expenses by visiting his Facebook or Instagram pages and finding the link to his GoFundMe account. She said people can also mail donations by check to Travis in care of the Strengthline Foundation at P.O. Box 143, Newport, Ohio, 45768.

Holly Cunningham, guidance counselor at Frontier High School, said Travis has kept touch with his alma mater and helped its students see a different perspective on life.

“He comes to any program where he can talk to the students,” she said. “He is even excited about it.”

She said a recent visit by Travis moved everyone at the school.

“He was here just a couple weeks ago,” she said. “He is a very powerful speaker.”

The power of his message has been felt even farther than the Mid-Ohio valley. Katie Ferrell, communications manager for Make a Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana said his impact on her organization has been felt since he was granted his wish when he was 12.

“He thought long and hard about (what his wish would be),” she said. “He decided to publish a children’s book.”

After “The Spider Who Never Gave Up” was published, Ferrell said Travis would read the book to other children who were hospitalized in order to help them cope with their illness. His lifelong dedication to Make a Wish was acknowledged by the organization with the creation of the Travis Flores Legacy Award. Ferrell said Travis was the inaugural winner of the award this year, much to the surprise of him and his family.

“He chose to pay his wish forward and that’s really important to us,” she said.

Doug Kelly, CEO of Make a Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana said Travis’ record of giving speaks for itself.

“Travis personifies the lasting and life-changing impact a wish can have. Over the past 15 years, through his book, his speaking, and his life, Travis has inspired tens of thousands of people with his dual message of hope and never-give-up. It is my hope that Travis receives a third lung transplant because his work in transforming the lives of others is far from finished and is more needed today than ever,” he said.

Teresa said one of the main points of Travis’ book is as important at this stage in his life as it was when he was a youth.

“Never give up on your dreams,” she said.