Who We Are
FOUNDATION FUND-RAISING TOPS $ 85,000 THANKS VERY MUCH FOR ALL YOUR GENEROUS DONATIONS !!!!!
The Don Bird Foundation Inc is a not-for-profit fund-raising organisation set up by the friends and relatives of Don Bird – a 49-year-old handyman from Geelong, Victoria, Australia.
In August 2010, Don suffered a serious bout of pneumonia and it is believed the causative virus infected and paralysed the right phrenic nerve in Don's chest at this time. The phrenic nerve is a huge nerve that controls the actions of the diaphragm, which is responsible for breathing. With his diaphragm paralysed, the formally active Don, has been left breathless and gasping, unable to do normal family activities. His internal organs have moved because his right lung is no longer inflated and his liver has moved up into his chest cavity on the right side and he suffers recurring bouts of pneumonia in his right lung which is unable to expand due to the intrusion of the liver.
To resume a normal life, Don requires a transplant of the damaged area of the right phrenic nerve – an operation that is unknown in Australia. In the US, Doctor Matthew Kaufman, of the Institute of Advanced Reconstruction in New Jersey, has performed around 20 of these operations and, after carefully analysis of Don's test results, Dr Kaufman has agreed that Don is a good candidate for the transplant. Dr Kaufman's patients have had an 85% success rate in reversing paralysis of the diaphragm.
Don has now travelled to America and arrived on 28 October and rested before having the operation on 4 November . After the operation Dr Kaufman explains his findings in Don's case. In 1979 Don had a grade 4 Melanoma in his right neck Lymph Nodes. These were removed as part of a common practice of the times. After years of scar tissue build-up he believes another trauma/ virus was just enough to stop nerve impulses reaching diaphragm. On the operating table it was noted huge scar tissue build gripping around nerve and likened scarring to "concrete". He has relieved this pressure to about 50% of nerve in neck area, but unfortunately due to closeness of major vessels it was considered to dangerous to go further with decompression of nerve. The nerve transplant and by-pass were performed by removing the Sural nerve from Don's right leg, and grafting to points above and below damaged phrenic nerve in Don's neck. This very tricky and complicated operation was completed in approx 5 hours. Due to the lack of muscle and tissue in Don's neck a section of his chest muscle was released and moved upwards over nerve graft. Don was resting comfortably afterwards in the Hospital Surgical ward and was released two days later. A care package of goodies awaited Don at his room and contained Vegimite, Dressing Gown, assorment of nuts & candies, magazines and puzzle books and a CD from local Jersey boy Bruce Springsteen A very big thanks to all staff and Administration at The Jersey Shore university Medical Centre.
Further Details about fantastic journey to get Don to New Jersey and Dr Kaufman please check Don's getting better page on our website.
The Don Bird Foundation Inc has been set up to assist Don Bird in his fight for a normal life, by raising funds for him to travel to the US and seek expert the medical treatment which can restore him to an active family life.
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