Travis Wesser is a 28-year-old gay man battling genetic heart disease. Now his friends have launched a fundraising campaign to cover the costs of his medical expenses.
Rebekah Bernhoft is a graduate student in social work at FAU. She met Wesser on Facebook and is now spearheading the efforts to raise money for Wesser.
“He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure back in January. It’s purely a genetic predisposition,” she said. “He's otherwise healthy. At first, the doctors couldn't figure out what the problem was. They couldn't believe he could have congestive heart failure.”
According to what Bernhoft learned from the doctors, Wesser has only about five years before his heart will completely shut down.
One of the complications Wesser experiences is a dangerous retention of water, upwards of between 15 and 20 pounds.
“It's a continual battle to manage both the health issues and the consequences,” Bernhoft said. “I've been really encouraging him to embrace that mind-body healing aspect: we can't separate the mind from the body at all.”
Wesser had to stop working because he was retaining so much water.
“It basically feels like I have a baby in my stomach. My legs were so fat they looked so embarrassing. I couldn't work because even just walking down the street would literally leave me winded,” Wesser said. “I am almost healthy in every other way, besides the fact that my heart cannot pump enough blood. It causes major symptoms. I thought I was in perfect health; that I was going to live forever; I was going to be all fine and dandy.”
The water retention can also be expensive. It must be removed through a process called an abdominal Tap. That procedure alone costs $1,265.
“Even though my health has continued to be both expensive and complicated, y’all are keeping my spirits up,” he said. “Over the next week I’ll be shopping around for some new health insurance to keep my costs as low as possible. Even with all of that, I’ve never been more hopeful. Thank you just doesn’t cover it.”