Saanich neighbourhood rallies to save man’s leg from amputation

Saanich neighbourhood rallies to save man's leg from amputation

WATCH: A group in Saanich is helping a man who lost his right leg to diabetes and may now lose his left one if he doesn’t get treatment. Isabelle Raghem reports. 

Day after day, Bob Gilbert collects bottles around Saanich to make ends meet and lately he’s says been working harder than ever to save his left leg.

“Nine years ago I had [my right] leg amputated from diabetes and I’ve been struggling with the other one even since,” he said.

He’s looking to raise enough funds to get hyperbaric treatment offered in Parksville that increases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry and claims to speed healing. It’s a treatment Gilbert is desperate to get.

“I can go without two legs, but I’m not willing to anymore. It’s too tough. I don’t want to sit around and look at the four walls and wait to die. It’s just not gonna happen.”

Due to increasing health issues, he is no longer able to keep a regular job but continues to spend hours a day collecting bottles.

“I’m getting bottles, I try to save as much as I can but I’m on a disability and rent is expensive and the food is expensive,” said Gilbert.

But despite the struggle, those who know him say he never gives up. He’s become a friendly face at the Roundhouse Cafe, a local coffee shop on Cloverdale Ave.

“He was just the warmest, most thoughtful person and I thought, oh what a story,” said Roundhouse Cafe Owner Kelly Miller-Gerlach Sunday.

When the shop owner found out the treatment isn’t covered by the province and costs about $4,000, without including costs of accommodations and transportation, she launched a GoFund Me page called “Save Bob’s Leg”.

“That’s a lot of money, that’s a lot of bottles, and for a one man show, that’s not gonna work,” said Miller-Gerlach, “I just thought they’re something we have to do.”

So far, the page has raised $300 in three days. The goal is to raise $5,000.

“Makes you feel there’s a lot of good people left in the world, that’s for sure,” said Gilbert.

The Saanich man says he hopes to launch his own program one day to give back. He says it will be called “Bottles to Build Lives,” where people’s donations will go towards people in need.

But first, he says he’s focused on getting healthy and saving his leg, one bottle at a time.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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