SPECIAL REPORT: Vet's life no longer on hold after surgery

KEZI 9 News followed up with Brandon Donovan, who's been waiting for a surgery for years.

Posted: Jul 11, 2019 6:54 PM
Updated: Jul 11, 2019 6:54 PM

Speech to Text for SPECIAL REPORT: Vet's life no longer on hold after surgery

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brandon donovan, eugene veteran 17:29:38i press right there and there was nothing. there's a chance it worked. new hope for a eugene veteran who's been fighting the v-a for years to pay for a life-saving surgery. kezi 9 news first introduced you to brandon donovan last december. and, he has since had that surgery to fix a rare cardiovascular disorder. in tonight's special report, "life on hold", kezi 9 news anchor bryan anderson shows us how the surgery went... and the new challenges he's facing. it's been roughly 7 months since we first spoke with brandon. he was down close to a hundred pounds, and continuing to lose weight...and the will to fight the v-a to pay for his surgery. now, since having the surgery, he's gaining weight, and gaining his life back. a year without his wedding ring. 17:39:31 because it (wedding ring) would literally fall off. brandon donovan lost too much weight. now, nearly 5 months after surgery, it's a sign of his recovery. i'm able to put my ring on. it stays. that's just a small thing. that's a tell tale sign& yeah that it's (weight) coming back. he's gained around 15 pounds back. happier and healthier than when he first sat down with kezi nine news in december. "how the pain is, is like swallowing cement and it's hardening in your stomach." pain he begain suffering from in 2009. he had a rare condition called mals- celiac artery compression syndrom. as we first reported, brandon and his wife, jennifer, started digging through his va medical notes and found the first suspicion of this rare condition in 2014. four years later, mals suspicion came up again. then last october, a physician with oregon health & science university recommended mals treatment with a specialist in connecticut. the v-a denied the treatment request...not their first denial according to the couple. "find out all these years later that he's been suffering when it could've been looked into back then, like, my mouth dropped when i saw that, i was livid." they eventually reached out to senator ron wyden's office for help. 17:25:44 our whole family was stressed out. this got bigger and louder than we anticipated. after kezi nine news also reached out to the roseburg v-a, brandon's surgery was approved. he went under the knife in connecticut, february 27th. 17:29:21 the first thing i did after waking up in a foggy haze is press right up top (of diaphragm). it's like at the very tip of that incision. that's where the nausea, i could press right there and be uncomfortable. but this time...a moment...of hope. 17:29:38 i press right there and there was nothing (no pain). there's a chance it worked. he ate that same day, without the crippling pain that's consumed him since 2009. brandon thought he was ready to return to normal. 17:48:45 10 years of negative reinforcement, undoing that essentially, i didn't think it was going to be a big deal. but, it is. a big deal mentally and physically. 17:32:24 i still don't get the signal that i'm hungry or remember to eat. so he sets a number of alarms on his phone every day reminding him to eat 7 to 10 times a day. slowly...he's making progress. 17:38:47 stopped losing hair, stopped getting cracks in the side of my mouth, my eyes don't gunk up. i have a little bit more energy. 17:39:52 bryan: something i've noticed too is that you're smiling more. it may not be something you realize in the moment, but compared to our first interview, i would say there's much more reason to smile right? brandon: yeah, i'm not under as much stress and there's no staring into the void of like, do i have to live with this forever? and i don't know how that would've happened. a life on hold...no longer. brandon looks forward to when he'll feel fully recovered. he says that takes about a year... and when that time comes... 17:56:56 once we get healthy again, we'll try for kid number 2. but, until that time, it's one day at a time. brandon says travel expenses for his surgery cost them thousands of dollars. and he says the v- a agreed to reimburse him some of that money. but he tells us that hasn't happened yet. kezi nine news reached out to the v-a for comment. they tell me they're researching my questions. bryan anderson, kezi nine news.
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