Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting a lung for Jay

Fundraising continues for Parrsboro, Nova Scotia man

by Darrell Cole Amherst Daily News

AMHERST - It may only be a matter of time before a 47-year-old Parrsboro man is sent to Toronto for a transplant that could save his life.

Jay Spencer remains in the ICU at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre awaiting word on when he'll go to Toronto for a lung transplant.

The community, friends and family have all been chipping in to help raise money to help support the Parrsboro man during his stay in Toronto. To date, about $15,000 has been raised, but it's going to cost him about $2,000 a month remaining they may have to raise as much as $40,000 to support him following the transplant.

"Everything is all in place for him to go to Toronto for the surgery. He should be heading to Toronto soon for an assessment, but Jay is so sick right now there's a good chance he won't be coming back before the surgery," family friend Catherine Smith said.

Smith said she has talked to other families of transplant recipients and the hospital and now has a better handle on just how much money is needed. Not all the expenses are covered - although Spencer's medications and oxygen are covered by the province.

Spencer began feeling ill in the spring when his breathing became more laboured to the point he had to go to the doctor because drawing each breath was becoming more difficult.

It's not known how he got sick, but he did work around chemicals and asbestos years ago while working on a school renovation project.

Originally, the group set $10,000 as the fundraising target because that's the amount the hospital in Toronto needed to know was raised before proceeding with an assessment. The province doesn't cover things like lodging, meals and paying for an attendant to look after him in Toronto after he's discharged from hospital.

He's expected to remain in Toronto for up to 24 months after the surgery.

A number of fundraising events have already been held for Spencer and more are planned in the coming weeks and after the Christmas season.

Smith said the community response has been overwhelming and Spencer's family and supporters are so happy with the lengths staff at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre are going to help.

People can support the effort by participating in fundraisers that are posted on the website or contacting one of the people listed on the website.

Any money left over after his treatment will be used to help others in Spencer's situation.

"He was ready to go home to die in a palliative setting because there were no funds to support him. We don't want that to happen to anyone else," said Smith.

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