20-year-old Benjamin Varcoe has a dog. He has many favorite sports teams. He also has Cystic Fibrosis.
The Yorkville resident was born with Cystic Fibrosis and has been in and out of hospitals his entire life. Now, he is trying for a life-saving double-lung transplant.
His mother, Christine Varcoe, said the transplant will be performed at the University of Pittsburgh, which she said is known for taking on high-risk cases, which her son’s is.
“None of the local places would take him,” she said. “They said his case was too high-risk. But Pittsburgh has a fantastic success rate and they have done amazing, amazing things.”
Varcoe said they are still waiting to hear back from Pittsburgh to see where on the list for available transplants Ben will be placed, but she believes that it will be somewhat high due to his current condition.
“In April he would have been a number one if he had qualified,” she said, as he had been on a ventilator for several weeks at Northwestern. Doctors had the family saying good-bye to him and she called it a “miracle” that he’d pulled through those tough months.
Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that allows sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body. Varcoe said some get the Cystic Fibrosis in parts of their body, but Ben got it everywhere. And with all of the medications he developed other conditions, like diabetes.
Despite needing the lung transplant earlier, Varcoe said, “He most likely would not have survived the surgery.” Although he currently has a chest tube, Varcoe said Ben is doing better and they’re hoping they can get the transplant soon.
The medical costs of the double lung transplant, not to mention the travel costs to and from Pittsburgh, for which Ben must travel via a special van, are over $500,000. Even with insurance, the Varcoes are expecting to easily pay $65,000.
To help with the cost, they’re working with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) to put on a fundraising event called the Holiday Market.
The Holiday Market will take place on Sunday, Nov. 4 at the VFW Hall in Naperville from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. where over 25 vendors, including Oswego’s Go Dog Go, will be selling wares and donating a percentage of their sales to COTA, all of which will go towards Benjamin Varcoe’s medical costs.
Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for children 6-13 and 5 and under are free.
Santa will also be there as well as photographer TMLC Photograpy for family portraits, of which 3 portraits will be given in digital form copyright free so families can re-use them in Christmas cards, t-shirts or whatever they would like.
Varcoe said they will also be selling “Friends of Benjamin” shirts and coupon and entertainment books.
Once the transplant happens and Ben is feeling better, Varcoe said one of the first things he wants to do is walk his dog, Anya. “He just wants to be able to walk around, play sports,” she said. “He’s been missing out on that and we’re hoping the double-lung transplant will really help.”
Donations for Ben’s medical care can also be made through his COTA page, Friends of Benjamin.