A Craven County mother with a life-threatening illness said she was discriminated against at Disney. The mother was designing a t-shirt about her condition at a shop in Downtown Disney when a Disney worker told her she couldn’t make it.
Jennifer Lizardi is a single mom living a normal life.
"I wake up in the morning, get my daughter ready for school, eat breakfast, and take medicine," Lizardi said.
However, she also lives with Bronchiolitis Obliterans. It’s a disease caused from scar tissue in the lungs. The damage caused by the scar tissue is irreparable to the lungs. The illness makes it difficult to breathe. People with the disease eventually need a lung transplant.
Lizardi’s diagnosis came at age 15 after complications from a lifesaving bone marrow transplant. Lizardi needs to use oxygen when exercising and sleeping.
"These lungs, you know, they're not great, but they're working right now," Lizardi said.
Currently, Lizardi is going through the evaluation process to be put on the waiting list for new lungs. Once she is on the transplant list she cannot be more than four hours away from her donor hospital. So, before she went on the list Lizardi wanted to go on a trip her daughter.
The Memories of Love Foundation provides Florida vacations for families with young children and a parent facing life threatening illness. They sent Lizardi and her daughter Isabella to several Florida theme parks for five days.
"It was fun. We had a blast. I got ride some of the rides with her and she has a great time. She has never been to a theme park before," Lizardi said.
Lizardi said everything was going well until she went to Disney’s Design a Tee at Downtown Disney. Lizardi was designing a t-shirt that said, “Jen’s Journey: New Lungs New life” when a manger came up to her and said she could not make the shirt.
"She said, ‘Jen's journey was okay, new life was okay', but she said ‘new lungs’ was the offensive part. I kept asking her, ‘You know that makes zero sense? This is something that should be celebrated,’" Lizardi said.
Lizardi said that the manager told her other Disney guests not receiving new lungs could get upset.
"It was wrong. I was basically discriminated against, and mistreated," Lizardi said.
NewsChannel 12 reached out to Disney. Below is their response.
"We apologize for this misunderstanding and the guest request should have been honored. We will be happy to work with the guest directly to resolve this," Walt Disney World Company.
Lizardi tells NewsChannel 12 she plans on responding to Disney. She would like a formal apology to her and the lung transplant community.
Currently, more than a 120,000 people are waiting on organ transplants in the United States. According to OrganDonor.gov, about 18 people die each day waiting on a transplant list.
You can follow Lizardi’s journey at https://www.facebook.com/jensjourneynewlungsnewlife.
To help with her lung transplant visit: www.helphopelive.org