Benefit planned for local girl

By Joseph Slacian

It’s safe to say that Ava Gibson has experienced more in her four short years of life, than most years older than she has.

Born with part of her small intestine outside her body, she has undergone more than 20 surgeries in her life.

Her surgeries, done at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, have included removing a portion of her small intestine. She also has had a small intestine transplant when she was 2 years old. Sadly, her body rejected the organ.

Her most recent surgery, a five organ transplant, took place on Oct. 31, 2018. In that surgery, she received a new liver, pancreas, small intestine, stomach and part of a large intestine. While her body has, so far, not rejected the organs, she has developed a serious virus, one that has kept her in the hospital since the surgery.

“All her parts are good,” her grandmother, Lisa Gibson, told The Paper of Wabash County in a telephone interview from the hospital. “It’s just the virus is running through her body. We’re giving her medicine through the IV to try to get rid of the virus.
“She has no immune system, so it triples the infection in her compared to what we get.”

Ava was recently moved from the intensive care unit to her own room, Lisa said. However, as of March 29 she was still fighting the virus.

Lisa and Ava’s mother, Brittney Gibson, have been at Riley with her ever since the Oct. 31 surgery.

To help the family with expenses, the Wabash Elks Lodge No.471 is hosting a benefit trivia contest on Friday, April 12. The contest will begin at 7 p.m. and the cost is $10 per person for teams of up to 10 people.

In spite of all she’s been through, Lisa and Brittney both say Ava is what could be considered an otherwise normal 4-year-old girl.

“She’s bubbly,” Lisa said. “She’s herself. She laughs and jokes, just like a typical 4-year-old.”

Her mother agrees.

“She’s always smiling,” Brittney said. “It doesn’t matter how she’s feeling. She’s always happy.”

But her life has been far from that of a typical 4-year-old.

She’s spent the majority of her life in the hospital. Three of her four birthdays have been celebrated while she was a patient in Indianapolis.

“We’ve only got to have one birthday with the family when she wasn’t in the hospital,” Lisa said. “That was last year when she was three.”

Except for water, Ava has never taken any nutrition orally. She has a feeding tube which keeps her nourished.

“She has never eaten in her life,” Lisa said. “She’s only drank water. She can drink water, but when it comes to medicine we use the G-gauge feeding tube.

“They’re trying to run Pedialyte through it so they can keep function in her belly and her bowels.”

Suffice it to say, Ava’s journey has been a struggle for the entire family. Lisa had to quit her job so she could spend time with her daughter and granddaughter.

“They live with us,” Lisa said of the two. “She’s always had me and my daughter all of her life. We’ve had our ups and downs. But don’t get me wrong; we just go on and do what we can do.

“I had to quit my job. My husband does what he can do, but now-a-days you have to have two or three incomes.”

Lisa and Brittney try to make a trip back to Wabash one time per week. Generally, it happens after Ava has gone to sleep, and they try to return before she wakes up.

“It’s hard to get home because it seems like every time you go home there’s something going on with her and then we have to rush to get back,” Lisa said.

Brittney said, “Me and my mom are a team. We’re her everything.”

Once the virus is conquered, Ava is facing another surgery.

“About two months ago she pulled her G-gauge tube out of her stomach, so we have to have surgery to repair that after the virus goes away,” Lisa said.

The trivia contest will consist of 10 rounds of questions on a wide variety of subjects. There also are a few special games during the night to allow teams to acquire bonus points. The winning team will receive a portion of the proceeds.

Those interested in playing but who might not have a full team are encouraged to attend. Elks members will work to place interested parties with a team.

Teams are asked to register with the Lodge prior to the event. They may call the Lodge, 260-563-2081, between 3 and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Registration fees aren’t necessary until the night of the contest.

The Wabash Elks Lodge is located at 225 W. Main St.

Posted on 2019 Apr 02