Ben needs a Heart Transplant

$85,509 of $80,000 goal

Raised by 315 people in 3 months

The Backstory

Ben is 36 years old, married to Lauren and they have a beautiful little boy Luca, who is 18 months old.   Being a Dad to Luca is Ben’s dream come true and we believe this will give him the motivation to get through the extremely difficult situation they are in.

Ben was born with cardiomyopathy and congenital heart defects.   At 14 months old, Ben fell seriously ill and became the youngest person in Australia (at the time) to have a pacemaker implanted.    He has been on medication all his life and hospitalised many times due to his heart condition.     

Tragically, Ben suffered a cardiac arrest at home on 1st September 2018 and without immediate CPR by Lauren and swift attention by Paramedics, he would not have survived.  Ironically, 2nd September was Ben’s birthday and his first Father’s Day.

On 12th September 2018 (Luca’s first birthday), Ben underwent a lengthy operation to remove his Pacemaker and leads, which were replaced with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD).    In the ensuing 6 months, Ben has suffered a number of life threatening Cardiac Arrhythmia, which without the ICD, would have been fatal.    These arrhythmia have had a detrimental effect on his heart and his kidneys – which recently required dialysis. 

Once, Ben used to play basketball and soccer, he now struggles to walk short distances. 

Ben is in severe heart failure and urgently needs a heart transplant.  Unfortunately, for that to happen, another family will lose a loved one.  

Following recent tests at St Vincent’s Hospital, Ben is now formally on the waiting list for a donor heart.   Following almost two months in hospital this time, Ben has recently returned to Goulburn to wait as it could be several  months or up to a year before a suitable donor heart is available.  

We hope the wait will not be a long one because Ben is very unwell.  However, the reality is that there are many more people needing a new heart than there are donors. We hope he’ll get one soon, because his one wish is to see his son grow up - something many of us take for granted.     

The Costs

Ben has  been in hospital for 5 of the last 8 months.  The accommodation costs for Lauren and Luca to visit haven't been cheap, coupled with the lost income for both of them.

If he is lucky enough to receive a donor heart, Ben will be in hospital for at least 10-14 days.  Post-surgery, the biggest dangers are potential rejection of the new heart and infection.    Therefore, for the first 3 months after he leaves hospital, Ben and a full-time carer are required to reside in Sydney to attend ongoing medical appointments, tests, counselling,  physio, gym, nutrition sessions etc at St Vincent’s several days per week.     Lauren works part-time but she and Luca will need to visit on her days off.    So including the operation, we envisage needing to rent an apartment in Sydney for up to 3.5 months.    The cost of this alone will be around $15,000-$18,000. 

Despite having extremely supportive and generous employers, Ben and Lauren have exhausted all of their paid leave entitlements. Ben has limited insurance - he is basically uninsurable due to his heart issues since birth.

How you can help 

We’d like to try to help Ben, Lauren and Luca by raising funds via his  Go-Fund-Me page for things like:

1.   Extensive medication for the rest of his life, and future medical costs 
2.  Out of pocket accommodation expenses in Sydney
3.  Mortgage repayments
4.  Household bills
5.  Enabling Ben to enjoy some special moments with Lauren and Luca and perhaps a holiday when their life returns to normal.  

This cause means everything to me because I’ve had 36 tough but wonderful years with my son Ben. 

I hope Ben has the same opportunity to see his son Luca, grow up.  

Your generous donation can’t buy a new heart for Ben, but it will ensure that once he receives the “gift of life”, Ben gets to spend some quality time with his family without the stress of increased debt caused by his illness. 

Even if you can’t afford to donate, but you think this is a worthwhile cause, could you please help get the word out by sharing the link to your Facebook timeline.

Thanks - Ian Ashton (Ben's Dad)
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Thank-you to the 309 wonderfully generous people, businesses and organisations who have contributed to Ben's Go Fund Me campaign breaking through the $80,000 barrier in only 8 weeks. The amount raised stands at $80,101 as of today. Your kindness and generosity is amazing.

I'm going to keep the campaign open for the time being because there are still some fundraisers in progress. Luca's Day Care Centre and the Pambula Merimbula Golf Club are just two that I'm aware of. Ben's story has recently received publicity through the Goulburn Post and the Merimbula News Weekly publications and I know there are a couple of other people intending to donate.

I will let everyone know when the campaign will finish.
Perhaps we should keep it going until Ben receives his "Gift of Life".

There is no news in that regard. We head back to Sydney next week to see the Doctors.

I just want to acknowledge everyone again - individuals, businesses and organisations who have supported Ben, Lauren and Luca so far through this difficult period, not only by alleviating the financial stress for them, but also for your messages of love and support.

Ian Ashton - Campaign Organiser
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Just an update for everyone who has contributed to Ben’s Go Fund Me campaign.

Through negotiation with medical specialists at St Vincent’s, Ben was discharged from hospital on 9th April on the condition that he stay in Sydney for a couple of weeks for further assessment and review. We rented an apartment close to the hospital so we could commute easily for appointments and tests. So please know that some of your kind and generous donations have already been put towards their intended use.

Ben received a call on the evening of Saturday 13th April from the Heart Transplant team advising that initial tests on a donor heart had revealed a match for him. Ben was quickly admitted to hospital and advised that subject to further testing on the donor heart being favourable, a transplant would be scheduled for around midday Sunday 14th April. Ben was taken to the anaesthetic bay for preparation around 11.00am only to be told 45 minutes later that the donor heart wasn’t 100% suitable and the operation was cancelled. Certainly an emotional roller-coaster for Ben and his family that day. It’s not unusual for a “false start” as extensive testing on the donor organ takes place right up to the scheduled surgery. It is unusual for more than one or two “false starts”. This was Ben’s second - the previous occurred when he was an inpatient.

Ben was given the OK to return home on 25th April and has enjoyed being back in Goulburn with his family. We hope the next call from the Heart Transplant team will be “the one”.

I will let everyone know when that happens.

Ian Ashton
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$85,509 of $80,000 goal

Raised by 315 people in 3 months
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