UPDATE 3/13/2014: Jen has been home from the hospital for six weeks and is healing well. The second bone graft to her jaw was successful, and her legs are healing nicely too. She has finally had her IV line removed, and last week she was even able to get on an elliptical machine. She is still undergoing physical therapy and is home from work, but looks forward to returning soon. Again, THANK YOU for all the support.
PRIOR UPDATE 1/16/2014: I regret to report that Jen’s bone graft has failed, due to a problem with how the artery was attached. After consultation with various doctors, it appears as if the best option is to re-do the procedure, this time taking the fibula from her other leg and using what doctors have learned since the Jan. 3 surgery to increase the likelihood of a better outcome. Jennifer has been moved back to ICU and her surgery is scheduled for Monday. An additional specialist is being brought on to the case.
Jennifer is concerned about the fact that she will need to extend her medical leave from work and will also need additional care during recovery. (She had learned to walk pretty well with crutches, but while BOTH legs are healing, it’s going to be more complicated. She’s also going to require IV antibiotics for the next six weeks.) I’m re-opening her fund today, with the amendment that any new funds collected may be used for income loss, child care, home nursing care, and other non-medical expenses arising from the surgeries.
Needless to say, we are all feeling rather emotionally drained (Jennifer especially!), but we are deeply moved by the kind expressions of concern and support throughout this ordeal. Thank you.
PRIOR UPDATE 1/6/2014: We have reached our $20,000 goal. Thank you so much for your generosity and good wishes. Jen’s surgery (vascularized fibula graft) took place on January 3; today her doctor told her that she could move from the Intermediate Care Unit to a regular room, and also start getting out of bed. She’s dealing with some pain but making good progress.
I am writing to ask a favor on behalf of my beloved sister, Jennifer. (That’s us above, circa 1980 and today.)
In 1999, my sister was the victim of a horrible act of violence. Late one night as she was entering her car, she was approached by an unknown assailant. As she quickly rolled up her window, he pulled a gun and shot her at close range. The bullet pierced her neck and shattered her jaw, coming within millimeters of her spine, her windpipe, and her carotid arteries. Amazingly, she managed to step on the gas and drive for a few blocks before collapsing. A stranger found her and called an ambulance, which rushed her to the hospital where doctors saved her life. Her assailant was never caught.
Over the next several months Jennifer underwent a series of reconstructive surgeries. The lack of an exit wound meant that she was spared major facial disfigurement; unfortunately, it also meant that the fragmented bullet would remain in her for years. Her jaw was wired shut for two months, and she lost all of her lower front teeth. Needless to say, the various physical challenges she has endured have served as a constant reminder of the emotional trauma of being shot.
Since the shooting, Jennifer has had over a dozen surgeries to stabilize her jaw, including bone grafts from both hips as well as multiple cadaver grafts. The doctors have done amazing work, but the early reconstructive surgery has gradually deteriorated. Last February, they were finally able to remove the largest bullet fragment, which was causing ongoing problems.
Here is why I am writing to you:
In order to achieve a stable long-term solution, the doctors will soon remove part of Jennifer’s fibula (the smaller calf bone) and do a vascularized graft to re-build her jaw. The surgery will be performed by three surgeons and take approximately five hours; it will require at least a three-day hospital stay. Later, the doctors will be able to provide her with permanent teeth implants.
Unfortunately, Jennifer’s Crime Victims fund is nearly depleted, and she faces roughly $20,000 in expenses not covered by insurance. (Part of the problem is that some of the procedures, including the restoration of her teeth and the reshaping of her chin, are deemed “cosmetic”; she also has a rather stingy insurance plan.) I am therefore reaching out to my friends and their networks to ask for support. Would you consider giving $25, $100, or whatever you are able, to help Jennifer get through her remaining surgeries and put this ordeal behind her? Every little bit would help. I’d also appreciate it if you’d share this message with your networks.
(Any funds collected will go toward relieving medical expenses; if there are somehow excess funds, they will be donated to the Crime Victims organization that has supported her over the years.)
Jennifer is my only sibling. We have always been close. Her strength in the face of adversity is inspiring, and I want to do anything I can to relieve her burden. Thanks for your consideration.