SUMMERSIDE – 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.”
To donate items or funds:
– Drop-off site 1: 1 McGee Drive, Summerside
– Drop-off site 2: The Evangeline rink
– E-transfers can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org