Let M Get Her Life Changing Surgery

In March 2014, my friend Emily Montuori went to the emergency room with severe abdominal pain. This is her story.

But first, before sharing her words with you, I want to point out a few things that she has modestly and humbly left out. Em is a USAF Vetran, and was medically discharged due to this condition that she contracted during her service time. TriCare and the VA are refusing to pay for a full islet cell transplant, which means if she doesn't come up with the $200 k on her own, this surgery will make her a strictly insulin dependent diabetic for the rest of her life. Her body can't produce insulin without those cells being moved from her pancreas to her liver. She will be losing her pancreas, her gall bladder, and her spleen.
Em works 2 or sometimes even 3 jobs at a time, and has never given up hope that she will someday live just one day without severe pain, and without worrying if she can eat and keep food down that day. I have never once heard her ask "why me" or "what have I done to deserve this". She will always take time out of her day to take care of others before herself, and will always make sure you are doing well before thinking about her own well being. She is a bright beautiful and vibrant young woman who truly deserves to live a healthy and happy life to the fullest.

"The doctors weren't sure what was wrong so I was referred to a Gastrointerologist, Dr. JagganMohan. Two days later my dad died due to GI related problems which then prompted my GI to check me for literally everything. After continuous months of testing and trying to figure out why I had the pain and not being able to get an answer, an EUS discovered I had Chronic Pancreatitis. When I woke up from the EUS that day my doctor was confused how a person of my young age had such a horrible disease. He told me to have the amount of damage I had, I would've needed to be binge drinking since the age of 8, which clearly wasn't the case. He ran genetic testing which came back negative, and left my diagnosis as idiopathic, no known cause.
After countless attempts at diet therapy, non narcotic medication for pain, and numerous hospitalization and ER trips, I was eventually sent to Ocshner Medical Center in Metairie, LA where I saw Dr. Joshi for a second opinion. Dr. Joshi confirmed my diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis with an EUS and ERCP and recommended an pancreatic sphincterotomy to possibly help correct my problem. It was about a 25% chance I would get better, the other 75% chance was I would get worse or there would be no change. Unfortunately I got worse. When I went back for my follow up I was told the last thing I wanted to hear "there's nothing else we can do. You are at a high risk for pancreatic cancer and need to be checked yearly from now on" I sat there in shock as I looked to my boyfriend "cancer?! Me!!??" So life went on, I was medically retired from the military, started school, and my GI said "I'm sending you for a third opinion". All I could think was I've had it at this point, I was over it all. He wanted me to have my pancreas removed, a surgery we had previously spoken about, but Dr. Joshi said wouldn't help me. So in January 2016 I was off to Baylor to meet Dr. Kim, I didn't know my life was about to change. He agreed that the surgery was probably the best option. I had another EUS done in March 2016 that showed the scaring in my pancreas had gotten severely worse, the GI who performed it, Dr. Burdick, agreed surgery was the best and only option. Dr. Kim wants to do my surgery the first week of May, all of my pre-OP is done except for the final things I need to do right before my surgery. I've been cleared by my social worker, nutritionist, lab, vaccines, everything is taken care of on the medical side. Now I'm faced with a brutal surgery, a lot of medical bills, and trying to find a way to pay all of my other bills while I spend 8-12 weeks out of work. Im happy that I'm finally getting the opportunity to get my life back, to not be on chronic pain medication anymore. Chronic pain medication played a large role in the death of my dad, the man who made me the strong woman I am today, I wouldn't be who I am without him. I need this surgery to get my life back, more importantly I need this surgery to make sure I don't do to my children what my dad unfortunately and unwillingly did to me."
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Organizer and beneficiary

Katii Jonas 
Bossier City, LA
Em Monte 
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