I am an aunt and Godmother to Dayna DeDekker, a wonderful young lady who has been experiencing severe health issues in recent years. Dayna, who is 25 years old, has been diagnosed with Achalasia, a condition in which the muscles of the lower part of the esophagus fail to relax, preventing food from passing into the stomach.
Diagnosed in one in every 150,000 people in North America, the cause of Achalasia is unknown and there is no known cure.
What is known is the effect that it has on the lives of people suffering from the disease . Achalasia is divided into Types 1, 2 and 3 with Type 3 being the most severe. Dayna was diagnosed with Type 3 Achalasia in 2014. In Dayna's case, the esophagus seizes tightly and stays seized with the food getting stuck. This causes extreme pain while waiting for the spasm to relax or until she vomits. The pain of a spasm has been compared to that of a heart attack.
There is also a flap at the top of the stomach that opens to allow food or drink into the stomach. Dayna's flap doesn't work properly with food sometimes getting stuck on top of the flap.
In September 2015, Dayna underwent surgery, a heller myotomy and fundal wrap, a procedure to help relax the esophagus. While Dayna initially got some relief from the surgery - she was able to sip water without it getting stuck - within 6 months all the initial symptoms returned. She also had to deal with severe acid reflux, a side effect of the surgery.
Achalasia has taken an immense toll on Dayna. In 2 years she has lost 27 pounds, going from a healthy weight of 135 pounds to her current weight of 108 pounds. She has gone from a strong, athletic woman who loved playing hockey and soccer to being too weak to participate in any athletic event. She is no longer strong enough to work at her job at Nike and has been on disablilty for the past nine months. Being unable to eat normally has resulted in a severe lack of nutrients in her system and the deficiency causes many problems such as lethargy, lack of concentration, anemia and a low immune system.
Through a family friend, Dayna was directed to Dr. John E. Pandolfino of the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Pandolfino is considered one of the top experts in the world in the field of Achalasia. He recently reviewed Dayna's medical files and has agreed to see her.
The good news is there is hope... Dr. Pandolfino is optimistic that he can help Dayna. The bad news is the consultation and tests are extremely expensive - the estimate for X-rays, an esophagus motility study, upper GI endoscopy and the consultation is $15,000 Cdn. Further expenses of travel, lodging and local transportation could result in an additional $1500 cost.
After the initial consultation and tests, there is a possibility of having to return to Northwestern to undergo a surgical procedure but we will cross that bridge and its financial toll when we come to it. To say the initial cost is a staggering amount of money would be an understatement and it's a total that far exceeds the financial capabilities of Dayna's family. They are struggling with knowing that a treatment which could possibly immensely improve Dayna's quality of life is outside of their reach financially.
That is why this Go Fund Me page is so important - this opportunity is too important for Dayna to pass up and we have to find a way to allow Dr. PAndolfino to help her. The sessions at Northwestern are scheduled for March 7 & 8 th so we must act quickly.
No contribution is too small in this moment of need. Any contribution is welcomed and greatly appreciated. We kindly thank you for your support towards Dayna and her family. Please consider sharing this page to help spread the word.