Life Changing

‘A beautiful Christmas current’: Renee cries tears of pleasure after $90k raised for life-changing surgical procedure

Renee Veal was speechless when she heard she had the $90,000 she needed to book her life-changing surgery.

Veal, who suffers from hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and widespread musculoskeletal pain, received the surprising phone call last week.

“I didn’t really know what to say. I knew we were getting close but didn’t realise it was that close,” she said.

“It was definitely a very high-pitched, over-excited phone call.”

Veal has been suffering from the effects of hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome for years.

It means her jaw dislocates frequently and she struggles to eat or sleep.

She needs a total jaw reconstruction and jaw joint replacement operation.

The most expensive part of the surgery was the titanium jaw and joint replacements, which are manufactured in the United States.

Her uncle, Nuk Korako, was one of the leaders of the “Ride for Renee” campaign.

Korako covered the length of the South Island on his e-bike for the cause.

He first rode from Rāpaki to Bluff last October, raising $35,000, and then from Rāpaki to Picton last month, raising $8400.

Various other fundraisers were organised by Korako and his wife, Christine, including a concert, raffles and a Givealittle page that netted almost $32,200.

Said Korako: “The crazy thing is you can get this thing done in Auckland on public health but you can’t get it done in Christchurch.”

Korako, who is one of two Ngāi Tahu appointees to Environment Canterbury and a former Port Hills National list MP, said there were three main benefactors. BNC Construction donated $3000-$4000, Scenic Circle Hotels donated upwards of $10,000, and Christchurch investment company Consolium, of which Korako is an independent director, donated the last $5000.

That was paid into the “Riding for Renee” account last week by Consolium chief executive Scott Alman. He had called to check how much they still had to raise and paid the remaining funds immediately.

Alman said they were “so pleased to be able to donate”.

Said Veal: “I am still in shock that we have actually got the money altogether.”

“I am very excited that we are now onto the next stage of this journey but also the nerves kick in about the reality of actually having the surgery.”

Special surgeon Chris Lim has been contacted about the operation.

“Hopefully, the surgery will happen within the next six to nine months all going well,” Veal said.

Said Korako: “What a wonderful Christmas present this is. [We’re] looking forward to getting that operation started hopefully early next year because she’s been waiting so long.”

Veal wanted to extend a huge thank you for everyone’s continued support.

“Every little and big bit of support has got us to this point and I am eternally grateful.

“And to Nuk and Christine for starting this whole thing off, I just don’t know how I will ever thank them enough.”

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