I am writing to ask you for help. More information follows below, or you can click on the link here.
Any readers of my blog will know that one of my best friends, Jenny Rowbory, is someone who has suffered more than almost anyone else I know and is the very best kind of human – a beautiful spirit, beautiful intelligent mind, and a soul that loves and has compassion. She is fully deserving of life and life to the full. Her poetry has kept me going on dark days, and I’m so grateful to her.
She is also dying, unless she gets surgery as soon as possible to fix her spine and brain.
Jenny is dying – and needs a complex operation to save her
Jenny has severe M.E. but she also has Cranio-cervical instability – her head is not being supported by her neck and spine so her skull is pressing down on nerves and air supply and all kinds of things (this is my rough sketch – Jenny has the more scientific explanation). What many people with both M.E. and CCI have discovered is that if you fix the instability problems and everything is aligned right in the body again, the M.E. itself dramatically improves because the body has half a chance of functioning a bit more normally.
The operation that went wrong
In January 2020, Jenny had an operation with a surgeon who was cheaper and who we all believed was ‘good enough’. He wasn’t, and the operation made her condition even worse, and deteriorating further. Basically the problem is that it was fused in the wrong place. (For legal reasons we aren’t naming him).
The hope for healing
However, there is a surgeon in America who is widely regarded as the best at this kind of procedure. He has offered to do a more thorough and cautious process, 1) undoing the first operation and also sorting out a suspected tethered cord problem, 2) finding the exact right spot for Jenny where the fusion would go (which wasn’t done by the first surgeon) and 3) fusing it in that right position.
For the first time in a long time I am hopeful again that Jenny can have a shot at a full life after all – and no one deserves it more than her.
There is a downside though – the costs of the operation are astronomical – £750,000 – and all three operations have to be fundraised at once, and as soon as possible if she is to have a shot. Here are some potential questions you may have.
1. Yowsers – so expensive! Why so much? The short answer is – US medicine.
- The US system is the most ludicrously expensive medical system in the world and if you don’t have insurance these kinds of individual operations, with no complications, can cost £100-300k EACH.
- Jenny has three operations in relatively quick succession, with hospital and/or secure rental with a hospital bed in between.
- Jenny also has to be transported in a special air ambulance to the US and back to keep her stable, and this is really expensive too (we’re talking between £50-100k each way).
- This doctor also happens to be the world expert in what he does, out of a mere handful in the world who do this operation, so he’s very much in demand.
2. Can’t she separate each operation out and fundraise for them separately?
I wondered about this, but the way that funding works is that the hospital will need all the money to be guaranteed upfront so that they can do all three operations. They wouldn’t accept her as a patient until all the funds were in.
3. But that’s crazy money. Does it really, truly cost that much?
Yes. This is the amount the hospital has asked for in order to do the operations, so there’s just no leeway. Jenny and her family would love to be asking for less – they have no choice. Jenny and her parents are utterly trustworthy and truthful and have proved to be so over the years I have known them.
4. Wouldn’t another surgeon work instead, who’s cheaper?
Jenny already tried that route and it didn’t go well. She has a complex case and really does need the best. This doctor is the best. Using another surgeon would risk another waste of money – and it’s doubtful that Jenny could survive another surgery that doesn’t work.
5. Why can’t the original surgeon be forced to correct his work?
That would be ideal, but it was a private surgery and he doesn’t accept he’s done anything wrong. That really doesn’t bode well for correcting wrongdoing. Plus, Jenny has been so traumatised by his handling of the surgery it’s not fair to make her go back to the person who hurt her.
6. Would she survive these operations, given how ill she is?
Honestly, we don’t know. However, in her favour is that she has survived operations before that she couldn’t have expected to survive. But what we do know for sure is that if she doesn’t have these operations she will die – and there is now some urgency to this.
7. What about her family, can’t they pay?
In short: no. They live modestly, have already paid significantly and sacrificially over the years for Jenny’s medical care and they cannot afford this. They have no more money. They have sought out all kinds of avenues for funding but Go Fund Me is pretty much their only option.
8. How can I help? It’s a lot of money. But I also know that some Christians are in the position to make a one-off donation to a good cause to the tune of £1,000 over a year as part of their giving. A few may be able to give £10,000.
If 750 people gave £1000 the target would be reached.
But for those who can afford to give £100 or less, these contributions are also vital, and if the appeal is shared often enough this would also reach the target. If 7500 people gave £100, the target would be reached. If all of Jenny’s friends gave something, and all of their friends gave something, we’d reach that target.
Please do give what you can, share to however many you can. When we look at how we use our money, particularly larger sums, it’s tempting to ask ourselves, what’s the best ‘investment’? When there are so many good causes, what should we give to?
This isn’t the kind of thing that is an investment. It’s a life.
It’s my friend’s life. And she is worth everything.
So many of you gave generously back in January, and it made me weep with gratitude. I would be forever grateful if we all could make this possible for Jenny. Can we please save her life?