Give Gina a Leg Up

$3,020raised of $10,000 goal
30%

Organizer: Mel Meadows Beneficiary: Gina Salvatoriello

Help Gina get the medical treatment & supplies she needs for after her leg amputation so she can take care of herself and her newborn baby!

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Fundraiser Details

Artist, Philanthropist, Activist and New Mother. She also has RSD (Type 2 CRPS), a rare disease that is literally burning her alive and now faces the amputation of her leg on May 9, 2013.

Meet Gina.
In her 30+ years of life, Gina has considered herself blessed. She is a dedicated friend, known for her kindness and selfless acts of charity toward strangers. She is an activist and leader with several nonprofit organizations. Prior to her diagnosis, she was also a very successful artist. Right now her greatest role is that of a new mother, having just given birth to her beautiful baby girl in January 2013. 

Here's the deal: after being involved in a terrible accident in 2002, Gina suffered major injuries and soon after was diagnosed with the most severe form of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), stage four in both legs. This condition is also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS-Type 2) but let’s just call it RSD. That’s easier to say, isn’t it? Each year Gina has undergone dozens of surgeries and treatments all over the country. 

For the past 10 years, Gina has bravely lived with a debilitating condition. All this time, she has managed to maintain an incredibly positive outlook, sense of humor and continued to dedicate her life to helping others -- all the while privately facing tremendous adversity of her own. Now she needs you to sponsor her. 

But here’s the sad truth. Over time RSD has caused irrevocable damage in her right leg. She’s undergone 20+ surgeries just on her foot and has 19 pieces of hardware fusing every joint just to keep her foot attached to her leg. 

After undergoing 7 months of surgeries and treatment at The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio in 2011, her RSD was well managed. Unfortunately it recently exacerbated and now Gina now will need to have her right foot and lower leg amputated (May 9, 2013) while caring for her 10 week old baby.

Meet RSD/CRPS. 
What’s that, you haven't heard of it?

You're not alone. Essentially, it is a rare, progressive, incurable, neurological disease wherein the body's nervous system malfunctions. RSD’s trademark is an extreme burning pain. People who suffer from RSD literally feel as if their body is on fire. There are four stages of RSD, -- Stage four being both the worst and extremely rare. Gina battles the pain every day. Unfortunately there are plenty of other symptoms of stage 4 RSD such as: extreme sensitivity to touch, swelling, irreversible changes to skin and bone, muscle atrophy, skin sensitivity, tremors, reduced immune system response, severe contractions of the muscles and tendons that can cause the limb to twist until the bones break. The disease would be fascinating, if it weren't so debilitating.

Meet Hope.
Stage 4 RSD is difficult to treat because so few people even make it there. Less than 1% of those diagnosed with RSD progress to stage 4. While there is no cure for Stage 4 RSD, there is hope in the form of emerging and mainline treatments, including inpatient epidurals, Ketamine infusions, pain management and implants. 

Recently Gina’s doctors informed her that the RSD has damaged her bones so badly that they must amputate her leg. After the amputation, she will need extensive, continued medical intervention for her entire life. While the amputation is necessary, it will likely intensify Gina’s RSD symptoms. Ketamine offers a revolutionary treatment because it ‘resets’ the brain in a sense by manipulating something called the NMDA receptors, which in turn stops the burning symptoms and severe contractions of the legs and feet. While the treatments will not save her leg, they will save her quality of life so that she can be there for her daughter. 

With these treatments, Gina should be able to resume a relatively normal life as a mother, activist and artist. 

Good Thing She Has Insurance, Right?
Treatment options are expensive and ongoing. Gina's fighting to continue working hard to pay for them. 

Due to the difficult and individualistic nature of treating RSD, many treatments are still labeled ‘experimental’ by insurance companies even well after they’re proved effective. Even treatments or equipment covered by her insurance plan still have co-pays in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Treatment also requires medication costs, repetitive doctor's visits, specialized medical equipment, travel expenses – all of which make the costs seem insurmountable and typically uncovered by insurance.

Gina and her family have spent tens of thousands of dollars for her treatment and surgeries. With her resources depleted, Gina is still facing at a lifetime of treatments and surgeries just to keep the disease under control and from spreading further.

So where will the donations go?
Below are some of the treatments and equipment that have been recently recommended for Gina by her doctors and a breakdown of their costs.
  • Due to red tape with insurance, Gina is not eligble to recieve her new wheelchair until March of NEXT YEAR!  She can not wait and has taken some serious falls and gotten severely hurt because of not having the proper equipment.  Her new wheelchair will cost $8,000!  She desperately needs this chair immidiately!
  • Wheelchair fabrication to safely attach a stroller to the wheelchair is $2,000.
  • Modifications to my home to make it wheelchair accessible; including ramps, widening doors, shower chairs, modifying the kitchen to make all areas reachable from a wheelchair, etc will cost roughly $5,500.
  • A multi-day session of Ketamine infusion treatments typically costs $10,00, with Repeated annual courses being required.
  • In-patient multi-day epidurals may be covered by insurance, but still cost thousands of dollars in co-pays.
  • Another treatment Gina is pursuing is deep brain stimulation, which is also is not covered by insurance as it is considered experimental. One course of the treatment will cost approximately $3,000.

Our funding goal was created to make pursuing these treatments and quality of life possible.

Every bit helps - seriously. Treatment and returning to a healthy, full life is possible. It is just expensive and ongoing. Please give what you can.
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Updates

Updates

09/22/2013
by Mel Meadows
Yet another unexpected complication - after Gina was treated for the infection of her amputated leg she devoloped another infection called C-Diff, which is highly contagious. She has been hospitalized three times and the doctors are still working hard at trying to get it cleared up and Gigi infection free and no longer contagious.  Until then, Gigi is forced to stay at home and try to get better.

We are keeping her in our prayers and still working on trying to raise enough funds to get her a new wheelchair!
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07/14/2013
by Mel Meadows
Due to complications from Gina's latest fall, she was back in the hospital over the weekend. Unfortunately, do to a faulty piece of medical equipment, Gina took a nasty fall just over a week ago, she swears she spends more time on the ground than upright - but anyone that knows our Gigi gets her constant sense of humor about these issues.  She has broken her toe, the nail was lifted up almost completely and has gotten infected and her recently amputated leg developed a large hemtoma that is now hemorrhaging.  

She is traveling out of town to Miami University Hospital this week to see a specialist with the hopes that they will be able to help.  The mounting medical bills are astronomical!  I've posted just one photo of a recent bill of hers for you to get an idea of what she is dealing with.  Let us all keep her in our thoughts and prayers and keep spreading the word about her story and supporting her through this crisis! 
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06/30/2013
by Mel Meadows
Gina took a nasty fall and ended up back in the hospital for three days and is finally back home. 

While trying to get into her wheelchair, her left leg began to tremor and contract and it caused her to fall.  As she fell a standing metal sculpture that held pillar candles crashed over her head causing a moderate concussion.

As she was falling and reaching for something to hang on to her hand hit the controller on her old power chair and it lurched forward and ran on top of her amputated leg.  The paramedics were called, but it took 20 or so minutes with the 200 lb chair to be removed from her leg!  She ended up with a severe hematoma at the end of her amputated leg which was treated at the hospital but could take weeks to heal and return to normal.

Gigi is back at home recovering but the incident caused her condition to worsen severely.  Unfortuntely, due to mistakes and red tape Gina still does not have her proper wheelchair and can not move around so she is basically now on bedrest.

We are hoping that she will heal quickly and get back to her usual self soon! 


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06/11/2013
by Mel Meadows

Less than one day after my amputation and I finally needed to face looking at my  amputated leg, which we lovingly call "Peggy-The Half Leggy" or Peggy for short.  lmao  Share my experience as I take what I think will be the hardest part of this medical journey - seeing my amputated leg for the first time!  

 

Check out the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGCgOQcBujI


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06/05/2013
by Mel Meadows
Day 10 of Gina being in the hospital...While this video comes to you a little late, there weren't many ways to get it uploaded while in the hospital and dealing with everything going on but we wanted to let you see what's been going on with Gina in her own words!  We will be keeping you posted and making sure that the video's are updated sooner.

Check out Gina's latest video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHFUk9rRhUc
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05/31/2013
by Mel Meadows
Extra Extra - Read all about it!

The Watermark newpaper has picked up my story and done an article about it!  Check it out at http://www.watermarkonline.com/2013/05/09/a-new-mom-faces-life-after-amputation/
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05/04/2013
by Mel Meadows
Unfortunately, Gina has beenhospitalized at Winter Park Memorial Hospital since April 28th with a condition unrelated to her CRPS and upcoming amputation.  She remains admitted while receiving treatment and on Monday she will have her gallbladder removed.  Currently, they do not anticipate any delays in her amputation scheduled for two and a half days later. 

She is still in highspirits, even joking with the doctor if they have a 2-4-1 discount on removing body parts!  She isbravely facing now two surgeries this week, but that does mean she will have even less time to prepare her home and address her upcoming daily challenges. 

She is staying busy creating beautiful, one-of-a-kind bags in the hospital that we will be auctioning off to help the fundraising. Check back soon for the details on the Give Gina A Leg Up Silent Auction!!!
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04/26/2013
by Mel Meadows
I want to thank everyone for your amazing generosity!  Your donations are already hard at work.  There is much more that needs to be done, but this is an incredible start and it's all because of YOU.  Let me show you how the donations are being used!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJdbVVQiN3M&feature=youtu.be
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04/11/2013
by Mel Meadows

Curious about Gina's accident?  What surgeries she's had?  Why she needs your help?  Check out her short video explaining her journey!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyYeb4673FU&feature=youtu.be


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