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Friday, November 25, 2011

Mold Infestation is Health Hazard

Mold is a fact of life if one lives in an old home, and for many it is nothing more than a nuisance. But in the Gustafson home in Sacred Heart, the Aspergillus mold spores are a real danger to Zachary and Ella, both who were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) in 2008.
When Zach was hospitalized at the end of the summer his doctor discovered the six-year old had allergic broncho-pulmonary aspergillosis, meaning he was allergic to the mold in the home.
“Anything that irritates his lungs,” can be harmful, explained mother Sue.
To help battle the effects of the mold the doctors have Zach on steroids. And while they might help keep the allergy in check, the side-effects aren’t fun.
“Our six year old acts like an 80-year-old,” Sue said. Climbing the stairs at the home can be a chore, with Zach’s stiff joints. His appetite can rival his dad’s at times and he and the family have to deal with the kindergartner’s mood swings caused by the medication.
The steroids Zach is on is helping, but the mold in the home needs to be completely removed. Servicemaster came out and located the mold in several areas of the house, especially in the basement and a room upstairs that at one point had been a bathroom.
Servicemaster cleaned out the basement and the Gustafsons have begun the process of repairing the upstairs room, removing an old window and replacing the wall material, where the mold had been growing.
While the basement was scrubbed clean a watermain issue which caused water to seep back into the basement revealed pipes that needed to be replaced, adding another layer to the mold problem. To hopefully correct the problem the Gustafson are planning to dig a new basement and move the house on top of it.
“The dream is to get a new house,” said Sue, but the family has not been successful getting financing.
Sue did put in an application for ABC’s popular show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” but she isn’t waiting around for Ty Pennington to come knocking on their door. Things need to be done to the home they have, so everyone can be as healthy as possible.
Since Zach and Ella were diagnosed with CF the communities of Sacred Heart, Granite Falls and the RCW school district have stepped up.
“Their support has blown us away,” said Sue.
The Tim Orth Foundation chose the Gustafsons as one of their families in 2008, the Sacred Heart Lions club put on a benefit, as did the family’s church. And on Dec. 3 another benefit for the family will be held at the Sacred Heart Community Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to raise money to help the family solve the mold problem. The event will include a BBQ lunch, silent auction and craft and bake sale. The event is being sponsored with supplemental funds from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans – Renville/ Redwood County Chapter. Those interested can send monetary donations to the Gustafson Fund set up at F&M Bank in Sacred Heart.
“We are much better givers than receivers,” Sue said, but eventually the family learned to let their friends and family help them. “If the community wants to love us, we should let them.”
When the CF illness entered the family many relatives wanted Sue and James to move the family closer to the cities, especially with all of the trips to Children’s Medical Center. But the couple decided against relocating.
“We are right where we need to be,” said Sue.
“We like Sacred Heart,” James added. “We want to stay here.”
The couple wants their children, including Hayley, 10 and Ayden, 8, to experience the closeness of living in a small community and to understand what it means to reach out and help people in need.
“It is so good for our kids to see that. We are some of the richest people,” in friends and family, explained Sue. “We are appreciative and totally humbled.”

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