Face­book Fundraiser

On­line auc­tion or­ga­nized to help lit­tle girl with spina bi­fida

Journal Pioneer - - FRONT PAGE - BY MIL­LI­CENT MCKAY mil­li­cent.mckay@jour­nal­pi­oneer.com

The Fundraiser for Grace Arse­nault on Face­book, a Feb. 1-3 on­line auc­tion, is set up to as­sist the fam­ily of a two-year-old with spina bi­fida.

Af­ter spend­ing time at the IWK with his son, Mau­rice Hashie wanted to help a Summerside fam­ily who has spent weeks at the fa­cil­ity off and on since the birth of their daugh­ter.

Ash­ley and hus­band Ricky Arse­nault wel­comed Grace two years ago. At 20 weeks preg­nant, it was dis­cov­ered that Grace had a le­sion on her spine, as well as other med­i­cal is­sues. “A week later we were at the IWK and we were told she has spina bi­fida. It was al­most like a re­lief be­cause we had an an­swer to what was wrong,” ex­plained Ash­ley.

Spina bi­fida is a birth de­fect that oc­curs when the bones of the spine don’t form prop­erly around the spinal cord. The rest of the preg­nancy was fine, with Grace ar­riv­ing three weeks early.

“At 15 hours old she un­der­went her first surgery with the doc­tors re­pair­ing the le­sion on her spine.

“It was prob­a­bly our first full day there, we were dress­ing Grace, when she went into res­pi­ra­tory dis­tress. It was then dis­cov­ered that she had uni­lat­eral vo­cal cord paral­y­sis and laryn­go­ma­la­cia, both of which can make breath­ing dif­fi­cult for her.”

She also has hy­dro­cephalus, char­ac­ter­ized as ex­cess fluid on the brain.

With these de­vel­op­ments, it was de­cided that Grace would need a tra­cheotomy tube to help her breathe as well as a gas­tros­tomy tube for feed­ing. The in­fant spent 19 weeks at the IWK be­fore be­ing trans­ferred to Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal in Char­lot­te­town for five weeks.

Then for two years, Grace was growing and do­ing well at home.

In De­cem­ber she was ad­mit­ted back to the IWK due to hy­poven­ti­la­tion, which causes higher than nor­mal car­bon diox­ide lev­els in the body. “We’re on week seven back at the IWK. And it’s get­ting harder fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally,” said Ash­ley.

“Our son is nine years old and he’s at the point where he knows we’re gone and he misses us, so it’s hard to leave him. But we also need to be with Grace. I’ve also used all of my sick time be­ing with Grace.”

The fam­ily is also pre­par­ing for other ex­penses with the pur­chase of a ven­ti­la­tor, which can cost around $30,000 as well as a cough as­sist ma­chine with costs rang­ing from $6,000 to $10,000.

Both ma­chines are vi­tal for Grace to be able to re­turn home.

Hear­ing all this, Hashie de­cided to or­ga­nize an on­line auc­tion to raise money for med­i­cal, travel and other ex­penses for the fam­ily. “With my own ex­pe­ri­ence of los­ing An­drew af­ter he was taken care of at the IWK, I felt it was my moral obli­ga­tion to help fam­i­lies who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the same cir­cum­stances. The com­mu­nity re­ally came to­gether to sup­port my fam­ily when An­drew was sick. I wanted to be able to do the same thing for some­one else.” Hashie cre­ated the Fundraiser for Grace Arse­nault on Face­book, set­ting the auc­tion for Feb. 1 to 3.

“We de­cided to go with an on­line plat­form, be­cause we didn’t have a phys­i­cal space for an auc­tion, but also be­cause it is more ac­ces­si­ble. Items will be posted to the page be­gin­ning at 8 p.m. on Feb. 1 and bid­ding on items un­til Feb. 3 at noon. Then at noon, the high­est bid wins,” he ex­plained.

There is still time for peo­ple to do­nate, with two drop-off sites avail­able as well as the op­tion for e-trans­fer­ring do­na­tions.

Arse­nault added, “It’s a great idea. It’s al­ways hard to ask for help. But this means so much to us. I love be­ing from this com­mu­nity be­cause peo­ple al­ways step up to help oth­ers.”

MIL­LI­CENT MCKAY/JOUR­NAL PIONEER

Ash­ley Arse­nault scrolls through the page Fundraiser for Grace Arse­nault. The page, started by Mau­rice Hashie, will host an on­line auc­tion from Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. to Feb. 3 at noon. Funds raised will go to sup­port Arse­nault and her fam­ily, whose daugh­ter is at the IWK.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/ASH­LEY ARSE­NAULT

Ash­ley, right, with her hus­band Ricky, son Hay­d­den, and daugh­ter Grace. Grace was di­ag­nosed with spina bi­fida be­fore birth. She is cur­rently at the IWK to deal with hy­poven­ti­la­tion, which causes higher than nor­mal car­bon diox­ide lev­els.

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