NEWRY, Maine — Aimee Driscoll of Auburn turns 29 Friday. Instead of spending it at home with her 3-year-old son, Liam, and her husband, Peter, she will spend it in the hospital, combating pneumonia coupled with cystic fibrosis.
Her mother, Carole Waite of Newry, said that while her daughter is normally in good spirits when it comes to staying at the hospital, the last week has been tough.
“She called me today and said, ‘Yeah, I had a really good cry and have accepted that I have to go back in. How much can one person take?’” Waite said. “Aimee does incredibly well with everything, but it’s difficult to keep her spirits raised. You could hear it in her voice.”
Driscoll was officially diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was 16 months old, according to Waite. The genetic disease causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract and other areas of the body.
The symptoms, which included extreme shortness of breath, fatigue and severe coughing spells among many others, worsened as she entered college.
“It was to the point where she would be in the hospital every other week,” Waite said. “She was sick all the time, she required nightly IV feedings and therapy to get the mucus out of her lungs. By her second year of college, she was in the hospital way too much to finish and ended up having to go on disability.”
Four years ago, Driscoll’s doctors referred her to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for a double lung transplant.
“They told us, ‘At this point, she definitely needs that transplant,’” Waite said. “Once they find a donor with her blood type, the hospital will contact her on a special pager and she’ll have to be brought to the hospital immediately.”
In order to cover the costs of the transplant, Waite and her son, Trevor, formed the Second Chances Foundation, which is made up of family members, friends and local volunteers who are attempting to raise the $300,000 necessary for the operation.
“I’ve gone through the IRS and a lawyer to open up a nonprofit foundation in Aimee’s name,” Waite said. “Aimee chose the name ‘Second Chances,’” she added. “I think it’s fairly obvious why.”
Waite explained that since June 2012, she and “a small handful of family members and friends” have organized several different fundraisers to help raise awareness of her daughter’s disease and the transplant necessary to keep her alive.
“A lot of people don’t understand that insurance doesn’t cover everything,” Waite said. “When Aimee gets the transplant, we’ll have to get an apartment for somewhere between three and six months in Boston. After she’s discharged, she’ll need to be close to the hospital for daily rehabilitation and in case her body rejects the organs.”
Waite said things became more difficult after Driscoll’s son, Liam, was diagnosed with autism in September 2012.
“Between that, the apartment, the time away from work and the medicine that insurance doesn’t cover, the bills add up,” Waite said.
To help with expenses, The Greenstock Snowsports Snowmobile Club of Newry is sponsoring a ride-in at 11 a.m. March 2 at the Newry Grange hall. Waite is hoping people will come out to ride.
“My husband is a groomer with the snowmobile club up there,” Waite said, “and he’s known Edie Okenquist of the club for several years. When we mentioned to her that we were looking for a place to do a fundraiser, she said that the club would help sponsor it.”
Okenquist, whose husband is the president of the club, said, “When Aimee’s mother mentioned her daughter to the club and the transplant she needed, we thought it was a very good reason to have a ride-in.
“We’re hoping to get a lot of donations from families, friends and club members for food and items to raffle,” Okenquist said. “We’re going to turn to local clubs and companies for support as well. Hopefully, we can get some gift cards or certificates to raffle off.”
Okenquist said they’re considering raffling a gallon of synthetic oil for snowmobile riders.
“If we could get that, it would be great, considering how expensive that oil is,” Okenquist laughed. “I heard somewhere that a gallon of synthetic oil is $45 right now.”
The food served at the Grange will include chili, hamburgers, hot dogs, baked potatoes and baked goods provided by the club and volunteers from the community.
Waite said anyone who wishes to donate money can do so at Oxford Federal Credit Union, where a fund is set up under the name “Second Chances Foundation.” She said anyone who wishes to volunteer at any fundraisers can do so by asking on the Second Chances Facebook page.
“There’s a picture of Aimee with her son and husband on the front,” Waite said, “and a logo that says the name of the foundation at the very top. We thought the picture of her and her family was perfect for the site.”
Waite said her daughter “is very humbled by the turnouts at each fundraiser.
“Aimee is the kind of person who doesn’t like to ask for help,” Waite said. “She feels that people have enough of a lot of their own problems and doesn’t like to bother. She doesn’t always get to make it to the events, but when she does, she’s so overwhelmed and appreciative of the support.”