Not many of us are hoping for a new pair of lungs for Christmas; however, Michael Gojevic is no ordinary man. Recently diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a horrific disease causing scarring of the lungs, Gojevic has possibly one to two months to live without a lung transplant.
Family and friends are working tirelessly to help Gojevic, 53, and his wife Arletha deal with this medical horror. One of a family of 12, Gojevic's eldest sister Helena Aspinall spoke to Coast Reporter about her brother's condition.
She explained that earlier this year Gojevic had a cold that morphed into bronchitis. The doctor gave him a round of antibiotics and gave the Sunshine Coast man the OK to go ahead with a planned trip to Las Vegas. While on the plane, Gojevic became short of breath. Oxygen was administered in the air, and when the jet landed, Gojevic was whisked away to a Nevada hospital for 10 days. After that, a medivac was summoned to bring Gojevic back to B.C.
From there he went to St. Paul's Hospital and got the crushing news about his lungs.
"His lungs are scarring, the doctors don't know what the cause is. He has been seen by a number of specialists at St. Paul's, including the head of the pulmonary department of the hospital. He has never had a medical problem in his life except for getting his appendix out when he was 13," Aspinall said.
Adding to the stress of being unable to work since February was the initial denial of his insurance company to cover $140,000 for the Las Vegas medical bill and the medivac flight. It took the intervention of CTV's Steele on Your Side to get the company to pay the charges after first denying payment because they were insisting that the lung disease was a pre-existing condition.
Money is still a huge worry for the family. Michael is unable to work, and Arletha, a care worker, is needed by his side. Because Michael must be close to Vancouver General Hospital when a lung donation becomes available, the family has had to rent quarters there as well as make the mortgage payments on their home here. Family and friends are rallying around the mortally ill man. They've set up a website where folks can go to make donations - www.mikeslungs.com - and there's information on the website on where to make donations in Vancouver.
A four-hour bottle drive on Nov. 17 raised just over $300 and a Lighthouse Pub night is planned for Jan. 17. Silent auction items are needed for this event. For more information, contact Kate McQuaid at 604-885-3295 or Shar Turk at 604-885-6422. Watch Coast Reporter for more fundraisers as they are announced.
Amazingly cheerful and loving in spite of his dire condition, Gojevic has a goal close to his heart.
"I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful support system and people who have shown so much care and support. Where possible we are also trying to raise awareness of the importance of people to register for organ donation, and I would appreciate it if you could mention this in your story as well," he asked in an email.
Whatever you can do to help this beleaguered family would be much appreciated, Aspinall said.
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