Quesnel’s Natasha Wasmuth, left, poses with her neurosurgeon and VGH head of surgery Dr. Gary Redekip, middle, and VGH Foundation president and CEO Barbara Grantham at VGH Foundation Gala November 2017. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

EpilepsyQuesnel raising funds for more Seizure Investigation Unit beds at VGH

VGH Foundation gets VCH approval to begin fundraising for SIU beds, Quesnel efforts are paying off

Natasha Wasmuth has suffered with epilepsy for the past 20 years.

In 2011 during a consult with one of Vancouver General Hospital’s (VGH) epileptologists, she learned that with only two Seizure Investigation Unit (SIU) beds for adults in the entire province, she could be waiting up to two years to be admitted to determine if brain surgery would benefit her.

As her seizures became progressively more out of control, Natasha was admitted to the SIU after just 14 months and it was determined to be a surgical candidate.

The purpose of the VGH SIU is to determine brain surgery candidacy, but it also helps specialists diagnose and treat the more complex cases.

Since the SIU was launched in 1979, there has been little additional funding or provincial support. British Columbia is the third largest province and one of the least funded for epilepsy treatment and research, and although more than 32,000 adults in B.C. have epilepsy and more than 7,000 are possible surgery candidates, the number of SIU beds has remained at two.

Although life would soon be altered in an extreme way, Natasha couldn’t stop thinking about the lack of funding for such vital equipment and services.

Through research, she learned, due primarily to red tape, the addition of beds in the SIU was not a priority at the time. This galvanized the Quesnel woman to do something about that.

In 2014, six months post surgery, Natasha founded epilepsyQuesnel (eQ) to start raising funds for SIU beds three and four.

Knowing the roadblocks she was up against, Natasha committed herself to 10 years, or until the VGH Foundation had the go ahead to take over the fundraising for additional beds.

Since eQ began, Natasha has had numerous meetings with the Foundation. Late last fall, Natasha met with Foundation Associate Director Stephanie Forgacs for an update and had barely sat down when Forgacs proudly gave her the news – Vancouver Coastal Health has finally given approval.

Although the VGH Epilepsy Clinic’s efforts for more beds began well before her surgery, eQ’s fundraising endeavour is said to be “the inspiration.”

The cost for the SIU project (equipment, installation etc.) is $865,000. The account opened with eQ’s funds, close to $19,000 (raised in just 18 weeks over four campaigns), and the goal is to reach $25,000.

After its 2018 campaign, eQ will pass the SIU torch to the Foundation.

VGH fundraising abilities are considerable and it is aiming to finish the project some time in 2019. In addition to eQ’s donation, $144,000 has already been raised for a total of $163,000 to date.

VGH is also working hard on recruiting more epileptologists and the Foundation has started other separate fundraising projects related to seizure research.

“Here in Canada, one in 100 people live with epilepsy. With the medical community learning more about seizures diagnosis is on the rise and the SIU wait list has grown to more than three years,” Natasha says.

March is National Epilepsy Awareness Month, so join eQ in its fifth and final SIU fundraising campaign.

Locations of events are coming soon in the Quesnel Observer and Coffee Break, and on the ‘Purple Day’ posters throughout the city.

International superstar Alex Cuba is again performing for eQ’s benefit concert on March 3 at The Occidental; there are limited tickets left.

“Thank you Quesnel for helping us put our great city on the map as B.C.’s first SIU endeavour! Because of the SIU and highly trained medical staff at VGH, I am now 1,690 days grand mal free,” says Natasha.

For the second year, Natasha was invited to attend the VGH Foundation Gala, which honours its donors.

“This is something I could never have believed possible before 2011, but I’m proud to have taken this fundraising project to such a successful conclusion and help others who live with uncontrollable seizures take the next steps to wellness.”

Just Posted

Quesnel council endorses UBCM resolution on cannabis tax revenue sharing

$50 million would be provided to local B.C. governments on a per capita basis

Quesnel female-only hockey program enters second year

Organizers looking to add girls from Bantam and Midget age groups

Letter: mayors look at LNG challenge wrong way

Writer says she is glad LNG court challenger is ensuring there is adherence to current laws.

Compassionate nursing: local students walk for FASD

UNBC Professor Kathy Wrath had her third year nursing students attend a… Continue reading

Harvest time at West Quesnel Community Garden

Reaping the rewards of a summer of work

Live bear cam: Let the fishing begin

Watch bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park catch their dinner live.

Campaign seeks to add Farsi to B.C. school curriculum options

Group wants Farsi added to list of nine languages in policy covering second language requirements

Trudeau urges leaders to follow Nelson Mandela’s example at UN tribute

Peace summit in New York marks 100th birthday of former South African president

Senate seats filled in B.C., Saskatchewan

Canada’s newest senators are the first woman to lead the RCMP and a Cree Metis businessman

Newfoundland’s popular ‘merb’ys’ calendar is back

The calendar of burly, bearded mermen posing against scenic backdrops for charity returns

Cap rent increases at inflation rate, B.C. task force recommends

MLAs say drop annual increase that would allow 4.5% rise next year

School, church, old mining site make Heritage BC’s first ‘watch list’

The list includes sites in need of protection to maintain B.C.’s culture and history

Yowza! Twerk, emoji and facepalm are added to Scrabble dictionary, OK?

Merriam-Webster has announced 300 new words have been added to the spelling game

LGBTQ activists, allies in Victoria counter anti-SOGI protest with rally of their own

Lower Mainland activists plan to protest SOGI on legislature lawn, Sept. 29

Most Read