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February 26, 2007

Raising Money To Bring Uma Home!

From Erik:

This email is going out to all of Uma Nithipalan's awesome friends and family (and friends of friends):

Uma should be able to move out of the New York ICU and into a neurological rehabilitation facility within the next two weeks—possibly as soon as this week. We are planning on moving Uma to a rehab facility in California so she can receive the best neurological care possible, be near her friends and family while she goes through her rehab, and be eligible for Medi-Cal disability insurance. We are close to finalizing her rehab facility, and will let you know as soon as we know. Thank you to everyone who has helped on that end. Uma has received so much love and support, and we are all incredibly grateful for it.

I'm sending out this email because we now need to arrange for Uma's safe transport from New York City to California. Because of her still-fragile medical condition, it looks like we must book an Air Ambulance with a nurse escort that costs approximately $20,000. We're hoping to raise this money in the next week so John doesn't have to put it on a credit card. I'll explain how you can help out in a moment, but first, in case you don't know all that Uma's been through this past month, let me backtrack:

Uma is a smart, mischievous, funny, irreverent, snarky, deeply passionate 27-year-old woman. On Tuesday, January 30, Uma flew out to New York City to visit her fiancé John, a musician who was in New York for a gig and who had proposed to Uma on Christmas eve. Uma's usually the type of person to take her time before making any big decisions—if you watch "Grey's Anatomy," Uma is very Cristina Yang—but this was a moment that I think Uma was secretly hoping for, waiting for, ready for; she said "yes" to John immediately and then started calling her closest friends. I've never heard her sound so happy. John has been by her side at the hospital since this happened and he will be with her every step of the way as they continue on this journey.

Early in the morning of Wednesday, January 31st, Uma had a series of seizures. Fortunately, she was with John and he was able to get her to St. Vincent's Hospital, where they discovered she had a brain aneurysm, which had burst. By that afternoon, they had coiled the aneurysm, but Uma was in a Stage 5 coma and the doctors told John that Uma was probably going to die or remain in a vegetative state the rest of her life. That was a scary freaking day. BUT:

That was 27 days ago. And Uma has repeatedly confounded her doctors (in a good way) since that scary freaking day.

Uma has had many ups and downs this past month—including a stroke—but despite what the doctors told us on that first day, her health and neurological condition continues to improve. On Day 13, she opened her eyes for the first time; on Day 15, she started focusing her eyes on us and really waking up. Since then, she's been trying to talk (the tracheostomy in her throat prevents her from making any sound, but she is TRYING), she's been trying to move the right side of her body (this is the side of her body that was affected by the aneurysm and has shown only limited movement, but there is SOME movement), she's been smiling, she's been frowning, she's been rolling her eyes at us when she gets annoyed, and she's been laughing at (some of) our jokes. She's also been getting frustrated at her inability to communicate as she becomes more aware of where she is and the journey ahead of her.

She is showing us many signs of Uma-ness. Every day is like a little miracle. The doctors are weaning her off of her ventilator, as well as weaning her off of all of the other tubes and machines that she's currently connected to. This is all very exciting.

And now we need to get Uma home. Any help you might be able to offer would be incredibly appreciated. We have already raised $1,000 (and THANK YOU SO MUCH to those of you who have already made donations to Uma) and I feel like we can raise another $19,000 easily. If we can find 950 people who would be willing to donate 20 bucks, then boom: we've made our goal. And if I've learned anything in the past month, it's that anything and everything is truly possible. Dream big, live big, HOPE big.

If you can donate more than 20 bucks, that's awesome and amazing and much appreciated. If 20 bucks is way too much for you right now (and believe me, I know the feeling), even a five dollar donation would help. Thank you in advance. We couldn't do this without all of your love and support and visualizations. You are all rockstars.

We are collecting donations via PayPal. If you don't already have a PayPal account, please follow the simple instructions (listed below) to open an account. It literally takes 1 minute. Then click on the SEND MONEY tab and send your donation via John's email ( john.ballinger@sbcglobal.net ).


I've posted a fundraising thermometer at http://www.theumafund.blogspot.com , so you can check on our fundraising progress. I will update the thermometer daily. Let's get Uma back to California!

much love and gratitude,
Erik (and John)



(My grandmother asked for "explicit paypal instructions," so I'm going to make this as easy as possible.)

1. Log on to http://www.paypal.com/
2. Click on the "sign up" button at the top of the page
3. Select "personal account," select which country you live in, then click on "continue"
4. Enter your personal information, choose a password, then click on the "I agree, create my account" button at the bottom of the page
5. You will receive an email from paypal. Open the email, click on the link, enter your password, and voila, you have a paypal account. (See Grandma? Very easy.)


1. Click on the "send money" button
2. Enter John's email in the first box ( john.ballinger@sbcglobal.net ), the amount of your donation in the second box, in the "category of purchase" box you should select "cash advance," and then fill out the other boxes as you please. Then hit the "continue" button.
3. Enter your credit card info and billing address, then hit the "add card" button.
4. Then you should be brought to a page that has your "payment details." If everything looks good, click on the "send money" button, and you're set. Paypal will then send you an email to confirm that the payment went through.

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Posted by bonnie at February 26, 2007 2:32 PM


Wow! If I had extra money right now I'd help. The little bonuses aren't in the account yet and may take a few days.

All I've got to offer is prayers...unless some more stuff comes through.

Posted by: Beth at February 26, 2007 7:58 PM

Wow, Bon! I haven't been reading your blog for quite a while, and then saw the post on HHH and came here to catch up.

Uma's situation really hit a nerve for me.

What is so wonderful is that she really has a marvelous chance for full recovery (though it will take timme), and that she is a fighter which gives her even greater odds.

This is not always the case.

In 1979, in New York City, my sweetie at the time proposed on Valentine's Day. One month and 3 days later, I left to go to my "lobster shift" (i.e. midnight to 8am) bread-and-butter job, and came home to find him passed away.

Upon examination following his death, it was found that he had died in his sleep of an aneurysm in his brain. Even if I had been home, there would have been nothing I could do -- they said his was almost instantaneous.

So -- though it may sound "odd", Uma is blessed and lucky. The fact that she had seizures means it was a "slower burst" and gave her guy time to get her to the hospital. Thank you GOD!!

I am very moved and I am also filled with positive feelings regarding her recovery.

I urge everyone who can, to contribute. And also to make those cards.

I will be contributing -- not tonight (if one can call 4:45am night, but hopefully tomorrow.

As for the adorable photo idea -- I am SOooooo technologically ignorant, do not have a scanner, etc. Doubt that I can pull it off, but I'll try. And if I can't do it exactly that way, maybe I'll "rig" something -- sorta.... :-) :-)

Thank you for sharing this information about your dear friend. And what a great photo with a fantabulous smile!!

Sending all kinds of {{{vibes}}} and love her direction....and to you and all those who are close to her.


Posted by: Deb Cresswell at February 27, 2007 4:51 AM

Looks Like I missed all this. I'm so sorry my dear sweet Uma. I will do what I can this week.

Posted by: Mary Carlisle at March 5, 2007 3:05 AM