Waiting for the perfect fit

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Katie Brickman
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Community events raise money for Gadd’s double lung transplant

Kevyn Gadd wants to go for a run one day.

Nikki Ebbett (left) and Kevyn Gadd are shown with some of the bake goods that the Moose Jaw Generals were selling on Thursday. Ebbett organized the bake sale with all proceeds going towards Gadd's trip to Edmonton as he prepares for double lung transplant in the new year. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman

By Katie Brickman

Hopefully that day will come next year after he receives a double lung transplant.

“I’ve always had heart and lung problems — pulmonary hyper-tension, congenital heart disease,” said Gadd. “I had open heart surgery when I was two.”

Gadd is 26 years old and has always had low oxygen levels around 85 – 90 per cent. Others usually have 95 -100 per cent capacity.

In October, life got a little more difficult for the avid hockey fan. He caught a viral bug and has since had to use a portable oxygen tank that goes everywhere with him.

“I went to the hospital here in Moose Jaw. They were scared because they don’t deal with situations like this,” explained Gadd. “So, because I have been seeing a congenital heart specialist in Edmonton since 2011, Moose Jaw phoned him. They said they were worried because my oxygen levels were really low and they wanted to send me to him.”

So, he flew to Edmonton to see his specialist and tests were run there. They determined his oxygen levels weren’t as bad and was given antibiotics for the virus. The specialist also discussed the possibility of a lung transplant.

“We started doing the tests for that (transplant). With a lung transplant, you have to go for a six week program for physio and get in the best physical shape because the body could reject the transplant,” stated Gadd.

The six week program will begin on Dec. 30 and end on Feb. 8. Gadd and his mother, Roxanna, will be in Edmonton during that span. After he finishes the program, he returns to Moose Jaw to wait for a transplant.

“I am on the list right now, but not activated. After the six week program, I will be activated,” Gadd said. “It also depends on size and blood type. There is no ‘you’re next on the line’, it is just whatever fits best with my body.”

Gadd has already made up his mind that getting the transplant is the best step forward in living a fuller life. However, there are a lot of costs associated with getting that transplant.

“Since we have to travel, we are looking at $7,000 to $10,000. It is pricey,” he stated. “We booked a place that we are staying at for the six weeks. It is like a hotel, but it is $88 a night. We are there for 42 nights, so it adds up. Along with the gas, meals, and all that stuff.”

Gadd’s family are big supporters of the Moose Jaw Generals and a long time billet family.  

On Thursday evening, the Generals gave back to Gadd. The team held their annual bake sale during their last game before the Christmas break and raised over $2,000 to help with his expenses.

“It is humbling, really. I think Jeremy (Ebbett) messaged my mom and said that they wanted to help us out with the bake sale this year. Peacock did a hot dog and cupcake fundraiser on Tuesday and that money is going towards the trip. I’ve had one steak night and the outpouring from that is crazy. Everyone wants to help out,” said Gadd. “The Kinsmen also helped out. I think the trip itself is covered, but this goes way past just this trip. When the transplant actually comes, we have that trip (too).”

Once a person dies who has the right set of lungs for Gadd, he will be called and will have 45 minutes to get to the municipal airport just outside of Moose Jaw. An air ambulance will come from Saskatoon and will take him to Edmonton where a team of specialists will perform the transplant surgery. 

After the transplant, his body could reject the lungs, so he will have to take more medication.

“It is going to open up a lot more opportunities to live a longer and fuller life,” said Gadd.

His biggest hope in the new year after getting a new set of lungs: “To go for a run … maybe, one day.”

Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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