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GoFundMe created to help Chilliwack man after devastating heart attack

Nelson Rioux had both legs amputated above the knees after the heart attack cut off circulation
Called Smiley by family and friends, Chilliwack’s Nelson Rioux is facing a world of change after having both of his legs amputated above the knee. (GoFundMe photo)

A Chilliwack man’s life was turned upside down when he had a heart attack, and as Nelson Rioux returns home from hospital, a GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help pay for expenses.

Those will be many for Nelson, who lost both of his legs due to complications.

Everything went sideways for him on Feb. 19 when he started having trouble breathing. According to the GoFundMe post by family friend Val Meyer, the situation became so dire that Nelson was placed in an induced coma and over the next two weeks he went through several heart surgeries.

Nelson lost so much blood circulation from the heart attack that he developed necrosis, or death of body tissue, in his lower legs and feet. To prevent the necrosis from spreading any further, his doctors made the difficult decision to amputate both legs above the knee.

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Nelson pulled through, and has spent the last few weeks recovering, gathering his strength. He came home to his wife, Betty, on April 27, after she’d spent weeks frantically trying to prepare a house that wasn’t built to accomodate Nelson’s new needs.

His current vehicle won’t either.

Nelson went into this ordeal already suffering from kidney disease, and he’ll still need to travel to and from the hospital in Abbotsford for dialysis three times a week. He needs access to a wheelchair equipped vehicle, and on May 2 Betty reported that they’d found a Toyoto Sienna van outfitted with a wheelchair accessibility ramp and manual restraints. It will work great with a few more modifications.

“I will be able to transport Smiley (her nickname for Nelson) anywhere we need to be,” Betty said.

The van isn’t free nor are the house adaptations, and Meyer said the GoFundMe goal of $50,000 is meant to take the burden off a family that is going through a rough time.

“We are hoping that Nelson is able to settle easily into his new life with friends and family by his side,” she said.

As of noon Tuesday, the GoFundMe had surpassed $42,000 raised.


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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