Gary, August 18, 2018
Hard-working and fun-loving, Gary Maes is the type of man who would always come to the aid of others, be it family, friends, or a stranger on the side of the road. He was a healthy, strong guy, but in early fall of 2017 that would all change. Weight loss, muscle wasting, inappetance, and extreme nerve pain were just a few symptoms that would plague him. He soon was facing a journey no one should have to travel. After months of doctor visits, blood tests, body scans, and biopsies, first locally, then at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, he was diagnosed with AL Amyloidosis in March 2018. It is affecting his heart, kidneys, liver, and nerves.
Gary and his wife Michelle traveled to Rochester at the end of May to prepare for an autologous stem cell transplant (Gary's own cells would be harvested, then implanted). Unfortunately, the harvesting process was much harder on Gary's body than anticipated, but he was deemed healthy enough to continue the transplant process after a short break. Chemo was administered over two days, and finally, on June 27, Gary received his transplant.
It was not without further complications. Gary had a pacemaker implanted June 29 because his heart would pause for 10 seconds, causing him to pass out. Due to a "perfect storm" of medications, chemo affects, and the Amyloid, Gary went into cardiac arrest July 1. The nurses and doctors were able to get his heart back into a safe rhythm, and he survived. It was later revealed that cardiac Amyloid patients almost never survive cardiac arrest.
July 28, Gary was officially released from Mayo Clinic, but due to weakened muscles, he went to an inpatient rehab facility in Green Bay, where physical and occupational therapists are working with him daily, helping him to regain muscle control. We aren't sure when he'll get to come home.
At the end of September, we head back to Mayo for his 100th day post transplant checkup. He will also see his cardiology team to have his heart reevaluated. He's wearing a special external defibrillator called a Life Vest, by Zoll. Cardiology will decide if the pacemaker is enough, or if they should switch it to an internal defibrillator (they didn't want to do this back in July because Gary was (and still is) dealing with low blood counts.
We don't know what the future will hold. There is a possibility of another stem cell transplant in a few years. He may need to begin a chemo regimen. Amyloidosis is very rare, but thanks to facilities like Mayo Clinic, the disease is starting to be understood. Some day, there may be a cure, and we're very hopeful Gary will be a part of that miracle.
October 14, 2018, we will be having a benefit to raise money to help with the costs of the transplant and medical expenses. This WILL be the benefit of the YEAR! You DON'T want to miss it!!! The benefit will be held at The Riverside Ballroom, located at 1560 Main Street, Green Bay Wisconsin 54302, starting at 1pm.
We are looking for fun, crafty, and unique silent auction baskets and live auction gifts! No gift or donation is too small!
If you would love to help with a donation or sponsor the benefit it please download the donation request form ~THANK YOU