Marvin and Shelly Potter of Stettler have been bravely dealing with a health crisis on their own for the past few years.
Marvin has been on the waiting list for a lung transplant for more than a year. On Oct. 26, he received a double-lung transplant by a team of surgeons in a nine-hour surgery at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.
The family is elated at Marvin’s new lease on life.
“I can’t describe how unbelievable this is,” Shelly said of the life-giving operation.
“It’s definitely a miracle.”
Shelly said she now realizes how important it is for people to sign their organ-donor cards.
“One life can save seven or eight lives,” she said.
“Some good can come from something so tragic.”
The “miracle” has not come without costs.
“It has been emotionally, physically and financially draining,” Shelly said.
“It’s been a long grind.”
Marvin, 67, has been unable to work for the past two years because of complications of emphysema and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The couple has drawn down their savings “to get by,” but the costs are still coming in.
To try to ease the financial burden, the Stettler FCSS is co-ordinating a benefit for the Potters where donations can be made to help the Potters through a difficult time.
“We have been watching this journey and see the hardships stressful times like this presents,” said FCSS director Wendy Rhyason.
Shelly is employed at the Stettler FCSS office.
“Shelly gives so much of herself to help others,” Rhyason said. “She is such a caring and giving person.
“Now is a chance for the community to help back, in the Potters’ time of need. We don’t want to see them lose everything they have worked for.”
Rhyason said Shelly had “no clue” that Marvin’s health crisis would cost so much.
Before qualifying for the transplant, Marvin had to spend six weeks in Edmonton for physio preparation in May and June of this year.
Marvin was removed from intensive care last Thursday, but remains in hospital. He’s expected to begin a rehab program soon.
The rehab program involves sessions every day for the next three months.
Shelly plans to stay in Edmonton with Marvin during rehab. Accommodations near the hospital cost a minimum of $2,000 per month.
Medication costs are high after such a procedure.
Shelly said Marvin is on 25 prescription drugs, with the two most expensive costing $3,000 per month.
She said even with health benefits, their cost will still be $1,800 per month on those two drugs, and she’s uncertain how much her benefit plan will cover on the other medications.
Luckily, the province provides the anti-rejection drugs.
In addition to the medications, pieces of medical equipment are also required for testing blood pressure and temperature, as well as a “spirometer,” a device that when blown into tests lung-performance.
Marvin will require medication and testing for the rest of his life to monitor organ rejection and infection, Shelly said.
Rhyason said small towns like Stettler are caring communities and she expects that when the community learns of the plight of the Potters, they will respond with help.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so at the Stettler FCSS office on Main Street. Cheques can be made payable to the Stettler Community Service Centre and charitable donation tax receipts are slated to be issued by the end of the year.