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A staggering £9,000 has been pledged in just over 48 hours towards an urgent fundraising campaign to raise £20,000 in 30 days, to send a mother suffering from two terminal illnesses to Thailand for treatment which could save her life.
The Breathe for Jo campaign launched on Thursday, April 10, and via the Just Giving sponsorship page more than 500 generous well-wishers have now pledged to the cause.
Former Exeter College student, Jo Smith, 36, was diagnosed with rare heart and lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, 11 months after giving birth to her son Rudey, now aged three.
Within months she was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer – and she is thought to be the only person in the world with both diseases, with a one in seven billion chance.
But Jo is caught in a devastating catch 22 situation – she cannot undergo treatment for the cancer because of the risk to her heart and lungs which have been weakened due to the PH. Neither can she be put on a waiting list for a heart and lung transplant, because she has cancer.
The Breathe for Jo campaign was set up by Jo’s best friend Sarah Lacey, to raise the £30,000 needed to send the mum-of-one to Thailand where a doctor is pioneering a type of immunotherapy treatment which could cure Jo’s cancer and also stop the advancement of the PH.
It is her one and only lifeline and she needs it as soon as possible.
The aim is to raise £30,000 which will include the pioneering immunotherapy treatment at The Better Being Hospital and getting her out to Bangkok, for her anticipated 45-day stay.
Jo, who grew up in Exeter but now lives in Broadhembury near Honiton, has described the generous public’s initial reaction to the campaign as “absolutely amazing” and has pledged her heartfelt thanks.
“I’m wondering if I might just get better from all the positive energy around me at the moment!” she added. “It’s absolutely amazing, I can’t believe the kindness I am getting from people who don’t even know me.
“Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!”
Sarah, added: “We are all utterly gob-smacked and bewildered by the response we have had to the Breathe For Jo Campaign.
“The Echo and the general public have created nothing short of a miracle!
“Please, please, please keep sharing our Facebook campaign and donating as little or as much as you can.
“Thank you all, from the very bottom of our hearts.”
In addition to the immediate fundraising initiative, Sarah, with singer and The Voice quarter-finalist, Adam Isaac, who together run On Track Music Events, have organised Breathe Fest, a fundraising music festival to be held on July 11, and 12, in Exeter’s Northernhay Gardens.
The event is set to cost around £10,000 and sponsors are urgently being sought so maximum funds generated from the event can be pledged to the campaign.
Every penny raised will go towards the campaign and any excess will be pledged towards helping others with respiratory diseases.
Anyone interested should email Sarah at, sarah@ontrackmusic events.com
To donate to the Breathe for Jo campaign visit her Just Giving page
And for more information about the event, visit the Breathe Fest Facebook page or visit the Breathe for Jo Facebook page which has attracted more than 1,320 supporters.
More details about Breathe Fest can be found on the event website, www.breathefest.com
You can also follow the campaign on Twitter at BreathForJo