Young Nelson man Cody Walsh has an extremely rare and fatal intestinal condition that will kill him if he can't fund an operation that will cost more than $1,000,000.
After a lifetime of intense and recurring stomach pain, Cody, 16, checked into Nelson Hospital in September with pain "like a thousand knife stabs".
Nelson Hospital general surgeon Alf Deacon was the first doctor to diagnose Cody's condition as the most severe form of malrotation volvulus - a birth abnormality where the bowel sits incorrectly in the body. The excruciating pain was caused by a "mid-gut strangulation" caused by the condition, and Cody would have been dead within an hour if emergency surgery had not been done immediately, removing most of his upper and lower intestines.
He was then transported to Christchurch Hospital to have feeding tubes inserted. These feed a glucose
solution directly into his bloodstream via a vein. He is now fed through tubes, is only able to take tiny sips of water, and has to inject himself with medication at least three times a day, as well as make nightly trips to Nelson Hospital for antibiotics.
Cody, who plays guitar and has a Playstation near his couch, can barely leave home but is pragmatic about his situation. Without an upper intestine and liver transplant in Canada, the medication he is on will wreck his liver within three to five years. There is also a risk of infections, one of which he has already had, which could kill him sooner. Dr Deacon said Cody's condition was "extremely rare", affecting about one in 350,000 babies, though most cases were detected immediately after birth. It was far harder to diagnose in adult patients. He said the closest place where the operation was available was Toronto, and it had only ever been done
successfully for one other South Islander. Even if Cody was accepted for surgery, the operation could still be five years away. Cody's mother Natalie Cozens said there was no way she could raise the funds for the surgery herself, and was relying on donations. She and Cody would have to live in Toronto for up to a year while they waited for a donor, which would easily push the cost over $1,000,000.
Several thousand dollars has already been raised through collection tins at Nelson bar Shooters, where Cody worked before becoming ill. Cody's boss at Shooters, Craig Bradford, said the parent company, CEA Trading, had already donated $5000 and was looking at giving more.
"He's a fantastic kid and deserves all the help he can get." He said Cody's friends at the bar were distraught but were managing to remain upbeat.