Fundraising continues as Cowichan’s Walker awaits lung transplant

Fundraising efforts have reached their goal but now people still want to help Tami and Norm Walker and their family as she fights her way towards a desperately needed double lung transplant.

According to Norm, Tami has received the pager she needs to be in contact if a pair of appropriate lungs became available.

But there has been a problem with that, he said.

"Tami’s only compatible right now with about 20 per cent of the population. What doctors are going to do is get her into the transplant clinic in Vancouver, keep her in for two or three days and try and change her antibodies through an intravenous. They’ll try that for maybe three days and then do it again in a month is the hope it will change her and give her a better chance to get some lungs donated."

The idea is to give Tami a broader footprint among possible donors, increasing her eligibility, he explained.

"The only other thing is to pray for a miracle," he said Tami was at home in Cobble Hill

Sunday, resting.

"She gets pretty exhausted.

They tried a new medication for her on top of the flolan pump and the other one she was using but she was getting violently ill from it so they’ve stopped it for now and then they’ll try it again," Norm said.

"We’re just waiting for word on how they’re getting things together because I understand it’s quite costly and they have to get approval from the government and stuff like that. And the government takes their time over things," he said.

Fundraising has been going on intensively in the Valley since the Walkers were notified that they couldn’t even get on the transplant list until they raised $25,000 to cover post-transplant expenses. Pushed to the wall financially, Norm found himself appealing for help.

Fundraising has gone well but has slowed down a bit, he said.

"We got the $25,000. We reached our goal but now we’re hearing from people who have already had lung transplants," Norm said.

"We had a message from one lady who said her costs over in Vancouver were well over $40,000.

It all depends. And with the fact that Tami has this blood problem, the doctors are saying she will be in ICU for a lot longer and they’ll have to monitor her a lot longer over there.

"They said to just continue fundraising," he said.

Norm said he and the rest of the family were grateful for the astounding generosity of the Cowichan community.

"People have been so, so good.

We are so thankful to everyone for this outpouring," he said.

Walker family friend Peggy Hunt agreed that the campaign has certainly reached its goal and more, "but everybody’s saying: don’t stop. We’ve had people who want to do more events. I’ve told them we’ve reached our goal but they said no, you’re going to need more so they are pursuing it.

"You don’t know, of course, what it’s really going to cost," she said.

"We’re guessing at the $25,000 really. We’re closer to the $30,000 mark but people are still interested. There’s a big bottle drive in Victoria next weekend at Lambrick Park. The Victoria Eagles baseball team are doing it," she said.

Organizers of that event reminded Hunt, when she spoke to them, that the Walkers’ children would have to travel to see their mother and other expenses would crop up.

"I thought that was really good of them. And somebody else wants to do another bottle drive here in town on Jan. 3."

The online fundraising through youcaring.com has dropped off in recent weeks but people are still donating a little, she said.

"We’re really, really happy with what’s come forth. It’s been amazing."

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