Family 'blown away' by support of Chipping Sodbury people after double blow
A FAMILY who suffered a devastating double blow have praised the “amazing” support of their community.
Chipping Sodbury couple Shamsi and Dave Kabbara were left devastated after doctors told Dave that he needed a lung transplant - then only weeks later he lost his job.
Since news of their plight emerged, friends, neighbours and well-wishers have raised £6,000 to help the family through the toughest of times.
Just 10 weeks ago Dave was fit and healthy, working long hours at the town’s Mexican restaurant Amigos and going at “a hundred miles an hour,” according to Shamsi.
But in November he got an infection which caused scarring on his lungs. He was in and out of hospital before Christmas, and in early January had the news that he needed a transplant.
Dave was then hit with a second blow: he lost his job working at Amigos, which shut at short notice.
The couple have been effectively living in Southmead Hospital for weeks, waiting for a bed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Doctors there need to carry out pre-assessment tests ahead of a transplant.
Shamsi, who has an autoimmune condition which means she self-administers low level chemotherapy treatment every week, says she and Dave have been overwhelmed by the kindness of people in the Chipping Sodbury community.
She said: “Chipping Sodbury – wow! We are blown away by your generosity.
“We even had a phone call offering us a restaurant when Dave gets better.
“We’ve been amazed by the response from the Chipping Sodbury community and the support and the messages we’ve had.
“A random stranger in a shop bought me a Christmas decoration when I was breaking down.
“My neighbour has been like an angel: she’s walking my dog for me, putting the bins out. I had a ‘Daveysitting rota’ when he was at home to look after Dave.
“As for the kids who worked in the restaurant, one of them, a 16 year old boy, has set up a fundraiser for the British Lung Foundation – he wants donations for his 17th birthday to go to the charity. Customers from the restaurant even turned up at the hospital the other day.”
Shamsi and Dave have a 12 year old daughter, Yasmine, who is at home being looked after by Shamsi’s mum.
Shamsi said: “I’m sleeping in the hospital and she is there for my daughter when she comes home from school. Somebody that I hardly knew offered to drive to the Lake District on her day off and get my mum. My Mum is having investigations for a serious heart conditions so was advised not to drive down.”
It’s been a struggle to pay the bills with neither of them at work. Additional costs for the family include accommodation near the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Their previous neighbour, Claudia Carr, set up a GoFundMe page which has far exceeded its £2,500 target. As the Voice went to press donations had passed £6,000 and the target had been raised to £8,000.
Shamsi and Dave Kabbara
Shamsi said: "Claudia, what an amazing amazing person. I’ve never ever seen anything like the GoFundMe. Dave and I were just in tears."
The money will pay for a room near the hospital as well as the rent for their own home.
Shamsi appealed for help to find a room on Facebook, and a woman from Chipping Sodbury who used to live in Birmingham used her contacts to find somewhere affordable.
When it’s all over and Dave is better, the couple want to volunteer at Southmead Hospital. Shamsi said: "We are humbled and in awe of the staff. They work relentlessly from the second they walk in until they leave 12.5 hours later.
"The number of times I’ve seen the crash trolley run up and down this corridor is unbelievable, but the staff still have a smile on their face and all the compassion in the world for you. Numerous times I’ve been crying in the corridor and someone has stopped what they’re doing and come and hugged me."
You can donate at the GoFundMe page here.