Monday, December 31, 2007

A step backwards

Money for ailing teen swiped. A second donation tin holding about $1000 towards a Nelson teen's lifesaving operation has been stolen and it could be years before he gets public funding for the expensive procedure.
Cody Walsh, 16, had emergency surgery in September
to remove most of his lower and upper intestines after
it was discovered he had a rare and fatal intestinal condition called malrotation volvulus, where the bowel
sits incorrectly in the body. He is now fed a glucose solution through tubes into a vein. More than $1,000,000 has to be found for a lifesaving operation in Toronto, Canada.
The medication he is on will wreck his liver within three
to five years although infections could do it sooner.
Family friend Nyle Sunderland, who has been spearheading the fundraising effort, said a donation tin
which had been on the bar of the Stables tavern in
Richmond, was stolen on Tuesday.
"You take a step forward and 10 steps backwards," she
said of the "unfathomable" theft. It came less than three weeks after another tin was stolen from the Turf Hotel in Stoke, holding up to $500 for Cody's operation. Donations had been "absolutely fantastic" and had so far reached about $2500, plus a pledge of $5000 from Cody's former employers. Money in other tins had not yet been counted. All the tins were now chained down but Mrs Sunderland feared the theft would put people off donating further. Cody said the theft had been "pretty rank - I hope the person gets caught". He said his condition had been fluctuating but there was a good chance he would be getting temporary surgery, in Nelson, that would rejoin the remaining parts of his bowel and mean he could eat about a sandwich a day, while remaining on the feeding tube.
It would partially slow down his liver's degradation as he waited for money to get to Toronto, he said. Nelson Hospital general surgeon Alf Deacon, who confirmed on Thursday that Cody's case had been presented to the Toronto medical team which would perform the operation, said Pharmac had granted special funding for Cody's New Zealand treatment but, because his liver was still functioning, a decision on funding the transplant in Toronto would not be made until his liver deteriorated. He could continue to be fed through tubes for a number of years before doctors could justify risking transplant surgery. Health board general manager of planning and funding Dr Sharon Kletchko said the board did not have a specific fund for the Toronto operation but an application for money could be made for exceptional circumstances.

Donations can be made to the Cody Walsh Transplant Fund at any Westpac branch.

(The person who stole the donation tins has been caught and charged. He was sentenced to 9 month jail)

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