A former Okanagan woman is hoping her hometown can help make a life-saving transplant possible for her three-month-old daughter.
Nicole Arnt, born and raised in Vernon and who also lived in Kelowna, is now living in South Africa with her husband, where she gave birth to their daughter Aurora on July 4.
“Aurora was diagnosed prenatally with gastroschisis, meaning her intestines were outside her body through a little hole in her abdomen,” explains Nicole.
Normally such a condition is easily corrected but due to a rare complication of a blood clot, Aurora’s small intestines were destroyed due to a lack of blood flow.
With no intestines to absorb nutrition, Aurora must receive her nutrition through IV line instead of being able to eat.
“To survive she must have a transplant which is only available to us in Canada,” said Arnt. “This is a huge unexpected expense for us and we need help to get her to Toronto Sick Kids and to move our life there.”
The cost of taking air ambulance could be as high as $150,000 so the family is hoping for approval from a commercial flight (which could be much less – approximately $40,000) with extra seats for Aurora’s care by her medical escort.
To help with the expense, the family is reaching out trying to raise the funds needed.
“So far we have raised just over $13,000,” said Nicole, who attended Silver Star, Coldstream and Kidston elementary schools while in Vernon, where her father worked for Noca Dairy and mother’s family owned the Valley Fruit Stand chain before they moved to Kelowna when she was in Grade 6.
The surgery Aurora needs would be performed in Toronto at Sick Kids, by doctor Paul Wales.
“It takes about three to six months to wait for a transplant donor and in that time she will receive other treatment including chemotherapy which is needed to suppress her immune system so that she doesn’t reject the transplant,” said Nicole, a UBCO nursing degree student who created the group Global Nursing Citizens.
For more information or to help fund Aurora’s life-saving transplant, visit www.gofundme.com/Auroras-Transplant