A steadily moving line of hungry customers waits at Centennial Park in Fenwick, Friday, May 28. MEGAN METLER

Last Friday, May 28, was the Lion’s biweekly Fish Fry at Centennial Park in Fenwick. Despite the cool and rainy weather, a large turnout showed up for their fish dinner and to show support for a young Pelham resident.

The Fabulous Fenwick Lion’s Club hosted a fundraiser to raise money for Emmett Gervason, a three-year-old Pelham resident in need of life-changing surgery. Emmett was born with a stage three congenital deformity known as Microtia, which is found in about one in 10,000 births, and Atresia, causing a non-functioning ear canal. He wears a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) to assist with hearing and has worked with a teacher since he was six months old to reach his milestones.

Emmett Gervason. SUPPLIED

“He has been behind in some of the exercises but he continues to inspire us every day,” said Emmett’s family on their GoFundMe page. “We also introduced some basic sign language to help him communicate his needs. His speech and language have been and will continue to be affected. Leaving MA [Microtia and Atresia] uncorrected would ultimately have a huge impact on his learning going forward.”

The surgery he needs includes a full external ear reconstruction and a canaloplasty, according to his family’s GoFundMe page. For treatment in Canada, which is a rib graft surgery reconstruction, Emmett would have to wait until he was 10-12 years old for the necessary weight required. Additionally, that surgical option also has higher infection rates.

His parents, Amanda and Aaron Gervason, decided to look to the United States and found two surgeons that specialize in microtia-atresia repair and reconstruction, who will perform the surgery together. Emmett can get the surgery once he turns three and weighs at least 30 pounds. The only issue was that Ontario’s Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) does not cover the costs.

The price of this out-of-province surgery, follow-up care and travel expenses to California are estimated to be approximately $250,000. Currently, the family has received donations from some 750 people, with more than $179,000 raised of their goal. [Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, the Voice has also made a cash contribution to the campaign.]

All proceeds from the Fish Fry event and additional donations are going towards Emmett’s surgery. Additionally, if there are leftover funds after everything is paid for, the Gervason’s plan is to help another family that needs some support or donate it to raise awareness for Microtia and Atresia (MA).

Emmett’s surgery is scheduled for July 29, with the family remaining in California for a minimum of six weeks for follow-up appointments post-surgery. After getting the procedure, Emmett’s life will be very different.

“The surgery would undoubtedly change his life. He will be able to hear with both ears although not at 100 percent efficiency. This gift will allow him to grow up having as close to a normal life as possible,” said the GoFundMe page.

To learn more about Emmett’s experience or to donate, visit his GoFundMe page at https://gofund.me/579dd63f