FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With Alara Melville in need of a second surgery later this year, and her father recovering from a chemo-induced heart attack earlier this month, the Melvilles are still in need of the community’s support.

Family and friends are reminding the community that a bottle depot account to support their expenses was recently created.

Earlier this year, Adriana Wilson organized an auction fundraiser to help the family.

Alara Melville was born in 2020 with a congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot. At only six months old, she received her first open heart surgery in April 2021 to repair most of the defects, according to the family.

Mike Melville, Alara’s dad, was diagnosed with Stage Three Colorectal Cancer in September 2021.

Mike underwent a surgical procedure called a Loop Ileostomy —where a loop of the small intestine is pulled out through a cut in the abdomen before being opened up and stitched to the skin to form a stoma. This is done so waste and gas don’t reach the colon or rectum, according to Cancer.net.

The family also has a GoFundMe page, started by Brittany Matwick.

The latest update, shared by Wilson on Facebook and written by Lesley Melville, thanked the community for the ongoing support, well wishes and prayers.

Mike is starting to regain his strength after suffering from a chemo-induced heart attack a few weeks ago, according to Lesley.

Understandably, Mike is scared to do another round of treatment and has been talking to his medical team about other options.

She continues with some “good news,” explaining that a recent check-up in Vancouver allowed for some quality family time, including a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium.

Alara’s cardiologist let the family know that even with the stents, a mesh tube to open weak or narrow passages in the body, the scar tissue is building up in her pulmonary arteries, and she has continued to deteriorate.

She still has pulmonary stenosis, a narrowing of the pulmonary valve in the heart, and pulmonary hypertension, which happens when there is high blood pressure from the heart to the lungs.

Lesley said, “though you’d never know by looking at her. She still acts like an active, wild little toddler, just happy as can be.”

Doctors have “cleared” them for the next three months, with instructions to keep an eye on their daughter. The family was told they would be immediately flown to the Lower Mainland if Alara’s condition worsens and surgery is needed sooner.

A doctor told the family he believes it will be another few months before Alara will need another surgery.

Her upcoming second surgery will replace and rebuild the hemografts or cadaver tissue used to build and widen her pulmonary arteries. In a few years, Alara will also need a valve replacement.

Lesley calls her daughter a “tough little monkey” and is grateful they got to enjoy some time together as a family.

Lesley wants to send out a “huge” thank you to Kimberely McCooeye, who covered Mike’s plane ticket with her Aeroplan Miles so he could join the family in Vancouver. She also thanks Karen Stutzman, her team at the Bottle Depot, and the community donations for the help in funding the trip.

Lesley adds that Mike’s medical EI has now run out, her temporary job at the college has ended, and she is currently looking for work.

The GoFundMe page is at $8,751 from 123 donations. The page also has updates and more information on what this family has endured.

E-transfers can be sent to mike_melville3@hotmail.com.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.