A Cape Breton man who needs an oxygen tank to breathe is hoping to raise enough money to help him travel to Toronto for a new pair of lungs, but he’s far from his $40,000 goal.

DJ Timmons, 44, from Margaree Centre, N.S. was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency a few years ago. The condition, which is inherited, left him gasping for breath and unable to continue to work as a labourer.

These days, he breathes through a set of tubes struggles to leave the house -- a difficult reality for the grandfather of two.

“Just to be able to play with them and get outside and stuff, it’d be a lot better,” he told CTV Atlantic.

Timmons needs a double-lung transplant, a procedure he can only receive in Toronto. The fundraiser hopes to offset costs associated with the onerous procedure, including travel and time off for his partner, Edna Chiasson, who is the household’s sole earner.

“One time we had to call the ambulance and he was saying, ‘Edna, just help me.’ Well there was no more I could do -- I had the oxygen turned up, we just had to wait for the ambulance to come,” she said. “And I felt like he was asking for my help but I couldn’t give it.”

An online fundraiser, started on Jan. 25, has already raised $3,575. Still, that’s far short of the couple’s $40,000 goal. They’re asking anyone to donate whatever they can.

The community is also stepping in to help, with a jar at a local shop collecting change for the couple.

The condition is physically taxing, Timmons says, but it’s also taking a toll on his mind.

“You’re thinking about it all the time. It’s hard on the nerves.”

Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is an inherited disorder that can become apparent between the ages of 20 and 50. Symptoms associated with the condition include wheezing, shortness of breath fatigue and unintentional weight loss.