Baltimore native seeks life-saving surgery

Cancer patient's last hope

BALTIMORE - After months of battling bronchitis and upper respiratory problems, Chris Lyles went to a specialist, fearful he had cancer.

Within 24 hours, the 30-year-old Morgan State and Johns Hopkins graduate learned he had cancer.

"I was only blowing out 20 percent of the air that I should be so that's when he looked at the scans that I already had with me... my x-rays... and he saw a lump," said Lyles.

Within a week, doctors told Chris he had a rare form of trachea cancer, and the tumor was too large to remove through surgery.

He soon learned the prognosis.

"I'd be dead in six months. (laughs) You know I have a positive attitude about it and everybody I talk to who has cancer or has dealt with someone who has had cancer says you have to stay positive."

Chris underwent 33 radiation treatments and seven doses of chemotherapy at the University of Maryland Medical Center, but he needed a transplant.

Tragically, he wasn't a candidate, since the same anti-rejection drugs needed to make that a success would fuel his cancer cells.

Through his family, he identified a doctor in Europe who could perform life-saving surgery using his stem cells and synthetic material to produce a replacement trachea, but the procedure has only been performed less than a dozen times and it's considered experimental at best.

"My insurance doesn't cover it. None of it. They don't cover having surgery outside of the States. If you fall... If you go to Europe and you fall and break your leg and you have to go to the hospital and have surgery, they cover that. But if you find out you have something and you have to go out of the country to get the surgery, they won't cover that."

Can you really put a price on life?

A Swedish hospital has.

It's $450,000 with the money required up front, and now Chris Lyles is trying to raise that money in hopes of having surgery in mid-November.

A grass-roots organization, which helps transplant patients raise money has picked up Chris's cause, and you can donate money to his fund at

The Flo-Nation Foundation is also holding a fundraiser for Chris at the Warehouse at Camden Yards on Sunday, November 13th.


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