Kelly Villeneuve wants people to know it isn’t easy for her to ask others for help, but she needs financial support as she fights to save her life.
The Sault woman, now 53, was at one time employed in an industrial setting and as a restaurant server who loved to play baseball in her spare time.
She now needs a liver transplant, and possibly a double-lung transplant, within the coming months.
While she is bravely willing to go through that physical ordeal at Toronto’s General Hospital, Kelly is concerned she has been unable to find provincial government support to help with the considerable cost of food and lodging for her husband as he stays by her side during the several weeks she will have to stay in Toronto for surgery, post-surgery care and medication (along with the cost of maintaining the couple’s Sault home).
She began experiencing shortness of breath earlier in life, doctors having prescribed inhalers for her to use.
Those inhalers didn’t help, her breathing problems having gotten progressively worse since she was in her 20s.
“Finally, doctors did a blood test for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1),” Kelly told SooToday.
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is an hereditary disease which harms the liver and attacks the lungs, Kelly also suffering from hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS), a rare lung complication of liver disease.
“Alpha-1 kills your liver. It’s not a cancer but it does affect your liver to the point where your liver doesn’t function anymore. And with my lungs, I’m at 50 per cent (capacity).”
“With cancer or a lung transplant, the Trillium Foundation will cover a certain amount (of a family member or friend’s accommodations and other costs) but if it’s your liver...there’s not one agency that will help you and I’ve called them all. I’ve called everybody,” Kelly told SooToday.
“I was so depressed. All I kept hearing was ‘no.’”
“Friends and family are the only people you have to rely on,” Kelly said, adding she hasn’t been able to benefit from any funding from the federal government as it deals with a plethora of COVID-19 relief funding envelopes.
With that, she has launched a Facebook page telling her story and a GoFundMe page to raise $25,000 for the expenses she and her husband will face once she gets that call from Toronto doctors to report for transplant surgery.
Kelly’s husband would make the long trek to Toronto by car, Kelly by air ambulance.
$4,950 of Kelly’s GoFundMe goal of $25,000 has been raised.
“It is my hope that I will be able to continue the medical plan advised by my medical professionals and ultimately receive a new lease on life. Your thoughtful and generous donations to assist me in this life-saving endeavour is appreciated more than any words can possibly describe,” Kelly wrote on her GoFundMe page.