Sunday, May 24, 2009

Newfoundland fundraiser to help 13-year-old with lung transplant expenses

Dee Stubbs-Lee and Jeff Lee, owners of Sebastian, where a benefit will be held Monday to raise funds for the family of Elspeth Arbow, a 13-year-old waiting for a double-lung transplant.
Photo: Peter Walsh/Telegraph-Journal

By Jeff Ducharme Telegraph-Journal

SAINT JOHN - As a young girl and her mother wait in Toronto for a life-saving procedure, local residents are being asked to come out to Sebastian, an uptown restaurant, on Monday and help raise funds to lighten what has become a heavy financial burden.

Judith Arbow's daughter, 13-year-old Elspeth, needs a double-lung transplant. Elspeth is battling cystic fibrosis and the disease has progressed to the point that the pair now spend their days waiting for the phone to ring with news that a suitable donor has been found.

Beyond the cost of staying far away from home in one of the most expensive cities in the country is the cost of the drugs and oxygen that helps Elspeth breathe. The province doesn't pay for the oxygen or offer much in the way of travel or accommodation subsidies.

Elspeth has been readmitted to the Hospital for Sick Children after a picking up a minor infection, but Arbow said from Toronto Friday that Elspeth is doing well. Beyond the financial support, she said, the emotional support means the world and lightens the load a little.

"That's why I love living in Atlantic Canada, people are just so wonderful," Arbow said. "If you've got nothing, you'll share the little bit you've got."

Dee and Jeff Lee are organizing the benefit at their restaurant at 43 Princess St. There will be a silent auction throughout the evening and a live auction beginning at 7 p.m. All the items have been donated by area merchants.

"It's very heartwarming and it's very welcome," Arbow said.

Dee Lee knows Arbow and her daughter. They all live on Germain Street in the city's uptown.

"The two of us were pretty depressed to hear that she had deteriorated to the point of needing a double-lung transplant," Lee said. "That's a pretty big thing for a 13-year-old to face, for anybody for that matter."

Lee said the original plan was just to host a small fundraiser, but it has been steadily growing.

'We're happy to raise whatever money we can."

The auction items are varied, but they include such things as gift certificates, furniture and a wine-tasting party for 10 people. Lee said donations are welcome, financial, goods or services.

"We'd like to do whatever we can so that her mom and dad can focus their efforts and attention on Elspeth rather than trying to pay for the cost of living," Lee said.

Another fundraiser is scheduled for June 12 at the Masonic Hall on Germain Street.

"We're very grateful to feel that we're in that safety net back at home," Arbow said. "We're getting all these positive vibes."

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