A GoFundMe campaign has begun to raise money for the family of an Abbotsford girl whose recent spine surgery has left her paralyzed.
Greta Loewen, 11, had surgery on Monday (March 22) at BC Children’s Hospital to stabilize her spine, which had been damaged due to cancer treatments.
According to the GoFundMe page, complications from the procedure have left Greta paralyzed “with significant pain” and unable to continue to the next phase of surgery at this time.
The online fundraiser will enable her parents Heather and Tim to pay for living expenses over many months as they remain by her side. (The couple also has three other children – Oceana, Isaac and Hazel.)
The family is also incurring medical expenses related to consultations with U.S. medical experts on what can be done to help Greta.
They say that because Greta’s case is so rare, larger U.S. centres have more experience on how to deal with the situation.
“We have been offered care in the U.S. by doctors familiar with her situation but the costs would be astronomical,” the GoFundMe page states.
“We are hoping the B.C. government would cover some of the cost, but we don’t have weeks to wait and see if they will. We have to proceed with finding her the best care and getting her there on our own.”
Greta is currently on oxygen and monitors, is unable to sit, and is in “constant uncontrolled pain,” the page indicates.
Greta was diagnosed in December 2014 at the age of five with a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma after a lesion was found on her spine.
Her story was featured in the news when the community rallied with various fundraisers – including a GoFundMe campaign – to support her parents.
The couple, who own HOFA Art Supplies and Framing in Abbotsford, had to take time off work to care for Greta while she went through treatment at BC Children’s Hospital, as well as in Boston and Toronto.
The funds raised assisted the family with medical costs not covered by the provincial Medical Services Plan and for additional expenses, such as travel and accommodation.
Although Greta is in remission, the cancer treatment took a toll on her spine.
She was paralyzed from the cancer and subsequent surgeries and radiation treatments, and had to learn to walk again.
“Her spine was collapsing down onto her spinal cord, which sits very close to her outer skin since the back parts of her vertebrae had been removed,” the GoFundMe page states.
Surgery was necessary due to the spinal cord compression, which was causing her discomfort and loss of leg strength.
The surgery was to take place over several days, but it was halted after Greta experienced paralysis after the first day.
“Greta’s childhood has been put on pause; all she wants to do is climb trees and play on monkey bars. We are hoping she can get back to the things she love,” the page states.