Professional Boxer Fighting to Get Back on Top After He's Diagnosed With Lung Disease

“I still get short of breath, even with all these medications," Elvis Medrano told

Professional boxer Elvis Medrano lives for the fight, but after facing a rare lung disease, the 27-year-old is getting back into the ring.

The trouble started for Medrano, who was born in the Dominican Republic and now lives in Ashburn, Va., when he was diagnosed with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH).

In addition to taking medications, he now sleeps connected to an oxygen tank.

"I’m still not 100 percent," the Washington D.C., 2009 Golden Glove lightweight champion told "I still get short of breath, even with all these medications."

Even so, Medrano says he’s lucky to be alive.

Medrano, once ranked among the top 10 fighters in the country, said he started experiencing problems with his health when he was 22 years old.

"My coach and I started noticing my performance was not the same. I’m like, 'What’s going on here? Why am I getting tired so fast? Why am I running out of breath?'" he wondered. "It’s definitely very aggravating. I was doing everything right — no partying, no drinking, no drugs, no alcohol."

For Medrano, it was even more traumatic, since boxing has always been a part of his life.

"Where I was born, in the Dominican Republic, you grow up pretty fast," he explained. "It’s an aggressive environment and [boxing] helped me take out some of my energy."

Medrano said he began experiencing a variety of symptoms, including a pain in his right arm, which neither he nor more than 45 doctors could diagnose.

"I was misdiagnosed many times," Medrano said. “People said I had asthma, lung infection, something in my head or something I brought from my country."

He said he was also mistreated. He was given a ventilator, and even underwent surgery to remove a rib to relieve pressure on his lungs. While the treatments helped him feel better in the short term, Medrano said it wasn't long before he experienced the same symptoms. 

More than a year after bouncing from doctor to doctor, he was finally recommended to Inova Heart and Vascular Institute (IHVI), where he was diagnosed with CTEPH, a disease that could have killed him.

After getting a surgery to remove the blood clots formed as a result of the rare pulmonary disease and getting on the right medications and treatments, Medrano said he’s slowly getting back to normal.

He’s back to training five days a week, and is easing his way back to fighting boxing matches while also raising awareness for his rare disease.

"It’s good to be alive," he said.