By Jennifer Vardy Little
The Kings County Advertiser
Brian Graves is waiting.
The 49-year-old Kentville man has been in hospital since Christmas Eve. He’s in desperate need of a lung transplant, says his older sister, Waterville resident Lillian Graves-Sanford, who is organizing a number of fundraisers to help make that possible.
Graves has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis, which has caused his lung tissues to thicken. In May 2012, says Graves-Sanford, he was told he’d need a lung transplant.
“He’s been having trouble for the last two years,” she said. “It’s urgent – on Christmas Eve, he almost died, and he hasn’t been able to come home since.”
Graves is more than just her little brother. When he was 10 years old – shortly after their father died of the same disease that has struck her brother – he came to live with Graves-Sanford.
“He’s just like my son,” she said, adding that she’s devastated by his illness. “He looked at me and said, ‘I’m never going to reach 51’. I realized then that he thinks he’s not going to surpass Dad. Our father died 40 years ago of this disease, when he was 51.”
Graves-Sanford is praying that won’t happen to her brother. Back then, she says, lung transplants weren’t even on the radar for patients like her father. Modern medical technology, however, means it’s a possibility for her brother.
In April, she said, doctors have indicated Graves will need to travel to the Toronto area, where he’ll have to reside while waiting for the transplant.
“You’ve got to practically die in order to get a transplant,” she added. “It’s sad, because you can only get the transplant when someone does die.”
Graves has been able to remain fairly cheerful as he remains in Valley Regional Hospital, where he’s hooked up to oxygen to help his damaged lungs. Currently, says his sister, they’re only functioning at 33 per cent.
“He gets exhausted very quickly,” she said. “This week, they dropped the oxygen level down two degrees, to see if he can go with less, and he seems to be doing well with that right now.”
Graves, who once enjoyed skating and hockey, is now unable to work due to his condition.
“His quality of life has really gone down the last couple of years,” Graves-Sanford said. “His only real quality time is when his son visits him.”
A bank account has been set up to collect funds for Graves’ trip to Toronto, where he’ll have to stay close to the hospital as he awaits a transplant. People can donate at any branch of the Valley Credit Union to the account Graves-Sanford has set up in trust of Brian Graves, or donate to some of the jars that have been set out at local stores.
A benefit is also being planned for Jan. 27 at the Waterville Fire Hall, which will run from 2-4 p.m. The fundraiser will include an auction, bake table and plenty of music, including performances by Cye Brown and the guys, Carol Edwards, Basil Davidson, Harold Hunt, Country Heat and Shirley York.