Fernie Free Press

Jaffray helps Kelly

Mike and Kelly - Photo by Angela Treharne
Mike and Kelly
— image credit: Photo by Angela Treharne

The Jaffray community has been rallying together to support their neighbour who needs a double lung transplant, raising over $18,000 to help her.

Kelly Guenther has Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a condition in which the body does not make enough of a protein that protects the lungs and liver from damage. The condition can lead to emphysema and liver disease. This causes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, (COPD).

“It’s totally irreversible,” said Guenther. “I need a double lung transplant to save my life now.”

While she has had this condition for most of her life, Guenther spent many years being misdiagnosed before a doctor found the real cause of her illness.

“They would tell me I had panic and anxiety. I told them they would panic too if they couldn’t breathe.”

The procedure will take place at the University Hospital in Edmonton. Guenther has just learned that she has been accepted for a six-week physiotherapy regimen that she must undergo to strengthen her body for the operation.

After the operation however, she will need to stay in Edmonton for three to six months to recover.

“They are very strict about having someone there with me,” said Guenther. “My husband’s work will accommodate him as much as they can, but he may have to leave from time to time.”

Because of the extended stay in Edmonton, Rick Lightburn, Guenther’s father, said that the family could use any funds possible to help. While the operation and anti-rejection drugs should be covered, the accommodations and possibly some other medical costs will come out of the family’s pocket.

On February 10, residents of Jaffray and the surrounding area gathered at the Jaffray Hall for a lasagne dinner and a live and silent auction, with the proceeds going to help Guenther’s family.

Items up for auction included packages put together by local businesses, artists and residents who have donated valuable items to help give Guenther the precious time needed to watch her grandchildren grow up.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact Diana or Wade Lightburn at 250-429-3582 or email them at wlightburn@skcmail.ca


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