Family With Severely Disabled Child Facing Possible Homelessness After Ice Storm

Nine-year-old Gabriel France has had a lifetime of painful surgeries and is one of only five people in the world with his medical condition

A local family that has been pushed to the financial brink due to an extremely rare combination of medical conditions is now facing the strong possibility of being homeless.

Terence France said he is hoping for any kind of help whatsoever to keep his family in their home, which is on NCC land north of Greely. The family has faced an uphill battle for the past year just to keep their heads above water.

After the ice storm last week, keeping their heads above water took on a new meaning. Their basement was among the many in the region that suffered that fate due to sump pump failures. France, who was doing woodwork and carpentry to try to raise enough money to pay their rent to stay in the home, lost his power tools in the flood. They also lost their freezer and all of the food that was in it, as their rural area was without power for several days.

Nine-year-old Gabriel France is one of only five people in the world suffering from both Kleinfelters Syndrome, which affects one in 50,000 children, and Femoral Facia, which currently has just 700 cases documented worldwide. Gabriel also has Legg-Perthes and has had multiple reconstructive hip surgeries. He will require two additional hip surgeries in the near future, it is likely that the hip with Legg-Perthes will be require a prosthetic hip.

“His life has been a myriad of visits to CHEO for appointments and painful surgeries,” said Gabriel’s father, Terence France. “Many of the costs we face are not covered. For example, he had to have his baby teeth surgically removed due to his genetic condition. Although the surgery was necessary for is health, it is considered “cosmetic” and cost us $7,000.”

Complicating the situation for the France family is that Gabriel’s sister has autism. Their mother is unable to work due to medical issues but does not qualify for any disability payments. Terence France, Gabriel’s father, is also off work on long term disability, trying to support his family and the overwhelming financial burden caused by their medical problems on just 60 per cent of his regular salary.

“For a family of four, with the extreme needs of my son as well as the needs of my daughter, it has been devastating,” France said. “Our financial resources and credit limits have been exhausted to the point that paying the bills and buying groceries are no longer feasible. We are in a deep hole with no way out.”

France, who is a graduate of St. Mark High School, said that although his son has endured more at his age than most could ever imagine, he maintains a positive attitude.

“Despite the health issues and the pain he has suffered through, Gabriel is a happy kid,” he said. “It breaks my heart that his life can’t be ‘normal’. He will never be able to raise his arms above his head or perform several tasks that the average child can.”

France said now, with the threat of losing their home and having nowhere to go, it is causing extreme stress on his family and on the children. He has just a few days to come up with several hundred dollars for their family to stay in their home, but they have no means to make that money.

France’s goal for himself is to get the help he needs so that he can return to work.

“I am undergoing therapy and the drug program that I needed to start cost $3400,” he said. “After that, the monthly injections cost $800. The drug I need is not covered by OHIP or any insurance companies. This drug and therapy is crucial for me to get off longterm disability and be able to return to work.”

Physically, France is dealing with pain and a series of medical complications.

“Following a few medical tests recently I have four bulging disks in my lower back, my white blood cells are extremely high, I have a cyst in my sinus, nodes on both sides of my lungs, pouching in my lower intestine, lesions in my liver and cardiac issues,” he said. “I am unable to gain weight at this point but still fighting.”

There is a GoFundMe page set up to help the family get back on its feet. The page can be found at France said it is “incredibly humbling” to be in a situation where his family is in a situation where they have to ask the community for help. He added that he is extremely thankful for the support shown by the community in the first week of the campaign.

 “Our hope is that I can regain my health and get back to work and support my family, and enable my two children to have a better life,” he said.

First, however, the family has to make sure they have a home to live in.

A GoFundMe campaign is helping the France family deal with its financial difficulties caused by a rare combination of medical conditions.