Community works to raise $250k for mother’s life-saving surgery

By Jessica Tyson
Te Reina Worsley. Source: Lisa Marshall

The Te Kuiti community is working to help mother of five, Te Reina Worsley, who has been diagnosed with moyamoya disease, a rare and progressive disorder which causes a blockage to the main blood vessels in the brain.

The name 'moyamoya' means 'puff of smoke' in Japanese and describes the look of the tangle of tiny vessels which form to compensate for the blockage.

Worsley, 35, of Ngāti Maniapoto, was diagnosed last December after suffering from a number of strokes, including a major stroke to the left side of her brain resulting in paralysis and loss of speech.

Now she requires surgery in the United States, which will cost around $250k, to provide prevention from further strokes according to her younger sister, Lisa Marshall.

"If she doesn’t have it, she will continue to have strokes and it will take her life," she says.

Netball team fundraiser. Source: Lisa Marshall

Marshall says so far around $11k has been raised on a givealittle page.

“We’ve had probably 15 businesses jump on board and they’re doing raffles, donating big appliances for auction so the Te Kuiti community has been amazing.  Everyone’s just jumping on board and doing anything they can.”

Worsley’s former netball team also raised around $1,000 during a barbeque fundraiser.  Local pub, The Riverside, has charged a gold coin entry to customers, raising around $700 and several raffles are on the go, expected to raise $4,000.  

However, that leaves at least another $230k to raise.

Marshall says the family is talking with the Waikato District Health Board to apply for funding from a high surgery pool, intended for offshore surgeries.

“But we’re unsure because Te Reina didn’t have medical insurance so she goes under self-paid.”

Marshall says the surgery has been accepted by the Stanford Neuroscience Health Centre in San Francisco, America.

It is expected to happen once Worsely has met a certain requirement in her rehabilitation at the Waikato Hospital.

“They want her semi-walking if possible and being able to comprehend and answer questions.”

Marshall says this could take between six weeks to six months.

"Te Reina's determination and courage to be with her children, has helped her rehabilitation... her speech and mobility are progressing," says Marshall.