Following on the heels of a successful fundraising concert by Harry Manx on the Sunshine Coast last month, long time Grand Forks resident Gary Gilbert and his partner Tani Schwartz are reaching out to their friends in Grand Forks for help. Help to fund another medical trip required for Tani’s daughter, Rose, who grew up in Grand Forks, in her continuing struggle with a little known condition called gastroparesis.
A year-and-a-half ago, Gary and Tani moved to the Sunshine Coast from Grand Forks in order to help Rose access needed medical care. Gilbert had lived in the community for over 35 years and was well-known as a school bus driver and musician with his band Dr. Fun and the Nightcrawlers.
Last February, Rose had to have an operation implant a gastric electrical stimulator (GES) in her stomach, a procedure not covered by typical Medicare plans. You see, Rose’s stomach no longer processes food.
Prior to their move to the coast, Rose’s condition had been worsening. Down to 72 pounds on a five-foot-six frame, Rose was a ghost of the active, 18-year-old girl she had been. Gastroparesis happens when nerves to the stomach are damaged or stop working. The vagus nerve controls the movement of food through the digestive tract. If the vagus nerve is damaged, the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally, and the movement of food is slowed or stopped. For Rose the movement has stopped.
Funds raised here, in their old home town, and in Sechelt, allowed Rose to undergo two operations in Montreal. Since the surgery in February 2009 she has only gained 24 pounds but is holding steady at 96 pounds mostly through tube feeding since the GES is not working.
“She (Rose) tube feeds 13 hours a day,” says Gilbert. “So far she has had no response from the GES unit she had implanted even though we have flown to Calgary three times to have it adjusted. It is very new technology here in Canada.”
Gilbert says that the family has made contact with the doctor who invented the unit and has 15 years expertise in adjusting it. He’s located in Mississippi and has offered to move Rose nearly to the top of his waiting list if they can get down to meet with him.
“This is the recommendation of our doctors here, and of the Gastroparesis Foundation in Calgary,” says Gilbert. “It is our hope that this doctor can get the GES working so Rose won’t have to tube feed and can get on with her life, her dreams and her goals.”
Gilbert estimates that the medical and travel expenses combined will be $15,000 U.S. In order to start the drive to raise the money, Gilbert was honoured that the award winning recording artist Harry Manx offered to do a show for their benefit. Manx’s show raised $6000 towards their goal.
Locally, you can help the family by contributing to the Rose Fund cans located at Jogas, Overwaitea, Buy Low Foods, Chain Reaction, Video Express, and A&W, or at the Grand Forks District Credit Union – just ask to donate to the Rose fund.