“This is the first year Mark is home for Christmas, after spending years living in a hospital bed”
Mark and Gaby; a vibrant couple with three children, lived life to the fullest, travelling, cooking and always socializing! But in 2014, on a family Christmas holiday to Miami to visit Gaby’s sister, their lives changed forever.
“We went to Disneyland, an awesome trip, all happy, and two days before we were meant to go back to Venezuela, Mark had the stroke.” – Gaby, Mark’s wife.
The stroke caused an acquired brain injury and high physical care needs; he required around the clock medical attention. Gaby describes their life immediately after the stroke as being up in the air. Mark spent two months in an American hospital but because Mark was not an American citizen, Gaby had to make a difficult decision.
Although she knew it was going to be a challenging and very long journey, Gaby had no choice but to uproot her family and transfer Mark to Australia where she hoped he would receive appropriate care and rehabilitation.
But due to the painfully long travel time and inability to access immediate care, Mark’s progress was slow. The doctors in Australia believed that Mark would not get better. After remaining in hospital for eight months, they broke the heart-breaking news to Gabby that Mark could not remain. The suggested alternative for 49-year-old Mark? Aged care.
“Aged care was never an option for us, because Mark is a young man and I wanted to give him the opportunity to get better. Every time I went there, I left the places crying. I couldn’t put him in a place like that.”
Gaby persisted, and found a rehabilitation centre for Mark to live, at the cost of isolation from his beloved wife and children. The separation took a toll on Mark’s mental and physical health.
At this point, Gaby committed to a bold plan: to build her own accessible family home. With the help of her eldest son Jesús and their neighbour, Colin, Gaby began building a house so that Mark would be able to move home and live with his family, while receiving the care that he requires.
Gaby, Jesús and Colin soon discovered building an accessible home was not easy! With full time jobs and other family commitments, they feared that Mark was not going to return home to his family as quickly as they had hoped.
To help finish the house and get Mark home to his family quicker, Gaby applied for a Youngcare Grant. Through Youngcare’s Grants Programs, the family received a companion bed, accessible automatic doors, and money for a modified bathroom vanity for Mark.
“Without Youngcare and the donors, Mark wouldn’t be home this Christmas. It’s been a long time and a long effort to get this done. Thank you to Youngcare and the people who have donated, without you Mark would not be home!”
Thanks to you, our supporters, Mark can finally come home for Christmas this year. Mark has received something he has not had in over five years, a choice; a choice to live a life of dignity and independence with his family once again by his side.