An online auction for a Red Deer man with a mechanical heart has raised thousands of dollars.
The auction for Curtis Bawtinheimer, who had a LVAD, or mechanical heart, implanted more than a year ago, wrapped up Friday after raising $12,697.
“I can’t believe the support we got. I’m overwhelmed by what everyone’s done for us and the help we’ve got and continue to get. It’s been amazing. I’m at a loss for words,” Bawtinheimer said.
“It was nice because I was able to talk to a lot of people as they came to pick up their stuff. It was very emotional for me to meet everybody and thank them for their support.”
Money raised in the auction will go toward travelling, housing and medical expenses that are not covered.
Having more than $12,000 to cover these expenses is a “relief,” said Bawtinheimer. When the call comes to receive a new heart, Bawtinheimer will have to live near hospital in Edmonton.
“We have to live there for three or four months, and I think the average room is about $1,850 a month,” he said.
“I have this place here (in Red Deer) I have to keep going, and now I’ll have another place in Edmonton I’ll have to keep going.
“If I get the call today, tomorrow, or in six months, I know I have that money saved in a special account.”
Bawtinheimer hasn’t been back to work since the mechanical heart was implanted, but has received disability payments.
Cheryl Bawtinheimer, Curtis’s wife, said she was in awe seeing the generosity of the community.
“We had quite a few teary-eyed moments when we were adding everything up,” said Cheryl.
“We met a lot of very empathetic people. It was good … to sit down and feel the support from the community.”
Cheryl said raising awareness for the importance of organ donation was a crucial part of the online auction. The back of the Bawtinheimers’ vehicle carries messages such as “Donate life,” “Be someone’s miracle” and “Are you an organ donor?”
“There are so many people still who don’t have enough information or awareness about what (organ donation) entails. One donor, one person, can save lives,” she said.
While the online auction has closed, donations can still be made through a GoFundMe account at https://www.gofundme.com/f/heart-for-curtis.