(Republished with permission from the diocese of Fredericton eNews)
“Relief, tremendous relief” are the words Kimberly Ranson used to describe her reaction when she learned New Brunswick medicare will help fund her son’s brain surgery.
“I feel like I need a new word for thank you,” said Kim. “I keep saying it, but thank you is not enough.”
Colin Ranson, the two-year-old many parishes “adopted” this fall, needs laser brain surgery in Houston, Texas, scheduled for March 4. He has Pallister-Hall Syndrome, a rare genetic defect that includes a tumour on his hypothalamus. It causes gelastic seizures — anywhere from a dozen to a hundred giggling seizures every day plus behavioural outbursts he cannot control. The longer the tumour remains, the worse the prognosis for Colin’s development.
Colin’s father, Paul, is the Anglican chaplain at Rothesay-Netherwood School.
An estimated cost of $200,000 Cdn stood in the way of getting Colin the high-tech treatment he needs, so his parents created a website to ask for help. The parishes of the Diocese of Fredericton did not disappoint, raising more than $72,000 in four weeks, with money still coming in.
The family had their neurologist apply for medicare coverage, but they didn’t know how long an answer would take, or if it would be the one they hoped for, so they were prepared to fundraise the entire cost.
But when New Brunswick medicare notified the parents that they would be helping to fund the surgery, Kimberly and Paul felt they had enough money to ensure the surgery would go ahead.
“I shut down the donation side of the website (caringforcolin.ca) late last week,” said Kim on Dec. 7. “We got a call from medicare saying they would be negotiating with the Texas hospital. Anything they don’t cover, we will be able to cover. “So our goal of $200,000 is met.”
Money is still coming in to the diocese for Colin, and fundraisers are still planned, but that’s a good thing, since Colin will need more care. He will have foot surgery, probably next fall, to deal with his enlarged toes, and, said Kim, “He may need a second brain surgery at some point because of the shape and complexity of the tumour.”
As for the fundraising, Kim and Paul are nearly speechless.
“We are completely overwhelmed,” said Kim. “We had no idea it would take off like this. It’s like trying to stop a freight train.
“God has been so abundant! In all honesty, we wouldn’t have met our goal without the church.
“We’ve heard so many stories of churches being blessed by this — like kids telling their parents they’re praying for Colin.”
They even heard from a retired priest in Houston who read their story on the Anglican Journal website and wrote to assure them her congregation is praying for Colin.
“This has been a great effort by the whole diocese,” said Fredericton Bishop David Edwards. “It shows what it is to be a diocesan family. And it’s what we learn to be as we try to follow Jesus more and more.”
For fundaising co-ordinator the Rev. Jasmine Chandra, this has been the easiest funding campaign she’s ever been a part of.
“What’s next? I keep thinking about what else we could take on!” she said.
“I’m just thrilled about it all. It’s been great to be involved and see all these good news stories come our way. We’ve seen people dig deep. It’s been fantastic.”
Two Christmases ago, Kim and Paul were dealing with an exceptionally cranky baby whose cries went on for 24 hours straight. It was a tense Christmas, knowing something was wrong, trying to convince doctors — without success and without a diagnosis.
By last Christmas, they had learned the truth about Colin’s condition. They knew they would probably need to seek expensive treatment in Texas but had no idea how to ensure their son would get it.
This year, said Kim, “It’s nice to redeem Christmas. We will relax as a family and not worry. We have a plan and it’s going ahead. It’s the best Christmas present ever!”
Readers are encouraged to continue to pray for Colin, his surgery, his family and his medical team.