As a child, Justine Applegate sometimes would pass out without warning. Doctors couldn't figure out why.
"She goes to the doctor and they say everything's fine," said her father, Charles Applegate.
But as his daughter grew, it became clear that she suffered from pulmonary arterial hypertension, a disease that causes narrowing of blood vessels in the lungs. She had it since birth, doctors said.
"This disease, 10 years ago, there was no treatment for it," Charles Applegate said.
His daughter was put on the medication Remodulin. The treatment helped to delay the need for a lung transplant for about three years.
But in January, the pressure in her lungs became too great. It was time for the sophomore Manchester Hawk bowler to receive a new pair of lungs. Without a transplant, his daughter's life expectancy was two years, Charles Applegate said.
On Feb. 2 at 8 a.m., the family received news that a donor was found. Later that day, Justine Applegate had her transplant performed in Philadelphia. Since then, her recovery has been on the right track, her father said.
"She's positive. She's a very strong-minded girl," Charles Applegate said.
When the Manchester PBA 246 found out about the family's medical bills — medication alone cost about $100,00 each year, Charles Applegate said — the organization stepped in. Money raised by the police department for a "Biggest Loser" weight loss contest would go to the Applegates instead of the officers who shed pounds.
"Once we heard about Justine, we said, 'you know what, we don't really need it,'" said PBA President Paul Bachovchin. "So we decided to give the money to the family."
The PBA matched the $800 in funds raised by officers, bringing the total donation to $1,600. Charles Applegate was presented a check at the police department headquarters on March 28, the day before he planned to travel to Philadelphia for his daughter's 16th birthday.
"It's beautiful. Only in America," Charles Applegate said of the support his family has received from the community. A local church is planning a car wash benefit for the family, as well as Trevor Martin, a fellow Manchester Township High School student who is battling leukemia.
"It's the least we can do," Bachovchin said. "Part of our charter is to help out other people."
Justine has remained in Philadelphia since the transplant requires hospital visits for daily treatments. Her mother, Doreeen, has been by Justine's side the entire time, her father said.
Charles Applegate said that he's able to visit his daughter at least once each week, sometimes twice. Provided his daughter continues making progress, she may be home soon.
"Hopefully the latter part of April, if everything's OK," he said.