Natasha Wasmuth and her neurosurgeon Dr. Gary Redekop, one of the few who performs the surgery for epilepsy. The pair took part in a photo shoot at Vancouver General Hospital in July. Submitted photo

EpilepsyQuesnel continues fundraiser for Seizure Investigation Unit

Funds raised this March will go toward improving equipment for two seizure investigation beds at VGH

Quesnel local Natasha Wasmuth is working to provide B.C. epilepsy patients with better care.

Wasmuth, the founder of epilepsyQuesnel (eQ) has spent the last month (and every month of March over the previous four years) fundraising for the Seizure Investigation Unit (SIU) at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).

Last June, in 2018, she donated a total of $27,578.30 toward two new seizure investigation beds to the Vancouver General Hospital Foundation — the amount she had earned fundraising since starting eQ in 2014.

The VGH Foundation received permission to fundraise for the new beds in late 2017, and has since taken over from Wasmuth, with a goal to raise $865,000 in total.

The SIU determines whether someone with epilepsy will be a viable candidate for brain surgery.

READ MORE: Quesnel woman raised more than $27,000 for Seizure Investigation Unit

The patient is first referred to the program by their doctor. To be referred to the program, the patient must have refractory epilepsy, meaning their medications either don’t work well or at all. Some spend up to five years on the waitlist. Others are bumped up more quickly if their seizures continue to worsen.

To determine the patient’s candidacy for surgery, they must stay in one of the two beds in the SIU, often for at least ten days. After the patient experiences a seizure (or several) while in the clinic, the doctors are able to determine if they are eligible for brain surgery.

John Andru, the associate director of Major Gifts and the Brain Campaign Lead at the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation, said in a written statement that the SIU has a critical role in assessing epilepsy patients in the province, and in determining whether they may benefit from the surgery.

“Expanding the SIU will help us help more people across BC, with the aim of reducing wait times,” he continued. “We are grateful to Natasha and the Quesnel community for being part of the vital fundraising campaign to expand the SIU.”

It’s a surgery Wasmuth underwent herself on August 9, 2013.

It’s also the surgery that led Wasmuth to begin fundraising for the new beds, as she wanted more epilepsy patients to have access to the SIU.

So when the VGH Foundation took over fundraising for the two new beds, hoping to bring the number to four beds in total, Wasmuth realized she didn’t want to stop.

Instead, this March Wasmuth is fundraising for new equipment for the rooms with the original two seizure investigation beds. “So it’s like, help get the new and then go back and help refresh the old, so to speak,” she says.

March 26 is Purple Day, a day where people all over the world are encouraged to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness. Wasmuth takes this one step further, spending the entire month, which in Canada is also Epilepsy Awareness Month, fundraising with the help of local businesses.

Throughout the month there have been (and continue to be) Purple Ribbons for Epilepsy available by donation at Fraserview Pharmacy, and Cookies and Donuts for Epilepsy available at the Quesnel Bakery. The B.C. Liquor Store sold Cookies for Epilepsy on March 8, and will sell them again on March 22. Safeway is hosting Purple Flower Week from March 22 to 27, and Shopper’s Drug Mart will also be selling Cookies for Epilepsy from March 25 to 27. On Purple Day, March 26, Bliss will be giving out free tea and coffee from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. to anyone who leaves a donation for eQ.

The final event of the month will be the annual evening at The Occidental — this year, a Fine Wine and Appy Night. The evening will begin with a video about Wasmuth’s experience with the SIU, and will be followed by B.C. magician and illusionist Jesaja Class. Class will spend an hour performing on stage, before spending another hour and a half walking amongst the tables and performing money tricks.

There will be a draw for various gift baskets, including ones from Long Table Grocery, Mama C’s, and a wine basket Wasmuth is putting together. There will be a silent auction, and the night will end with the sounds of local band Roadblock, who also recently performed at the Troll Telefest. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on March 30. Tickets are available at The Occidental.

Wasmuth says before her surgery, she could never imagine running something like eQ. “I’m too shy; I wouldn’t even touch that with a ten foot pole. But, as they say, brain surgery does change you and you never know how it’s going to change until you’re done. So, it’s been pretty cool.”

She says through her efforts, she’s had the opportunity to meet a wide range of people.

“I really, truly thank the community. They pull together for us every year in such an amazing way. It’s absolutely incredible. And for a disease that doesn’t get a ton of attention and is very misunderstood, I’m surprised,” says Wasmuth.

And as Wasmuth says, better equipment in the SIU means better care for epilepsy patients — even those from the Quesnel area.

Heather Norman
Community Reporter
Send Heather an email
Like the Quesnel Cariboo Observer on Facebook

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo Ski-Touring Club to host international film festival showcase

Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival films to be shown at Hallis Lake Lodge on Jan. 24

$10,000 for Gold Rush Trails marketing video and Billie Bouchie Day celebrations

‘We were very impressed by the calibre of both projects’

VIDEO: Special screening of Shadow Trap will wrap up Sled Dog Mail Run Jan. 26 in Wells

Shadow Trap was filmed in Barkerville and features local actors, production members and dogs

Buses running today but still a risk of frostbite

The wind chill for Friday morning in Quesnel is expected to be -33 C

RCMP to hold career presentation in Quesnel

Those interested in applying need to pre-register for the Jan. 22 presentation

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Most Read