Chris Smith: A critical point in Olivia Weber's cross-country medical odyssey

There can't be many people who've endured a coast-to-coast quest for healing like the one Olivia Weber is on.

The 25-year-old graduate of Sebastopol's Analy High has in the past eight months toughed out constant pain and probing as her mother, Helen, has driven her from one to the next of some of the nation's leading medical facilities: the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, the Yale-New Haven Hospital, the National Institutes of Health.

They seek answers and treatment strategies for Olivia's tormenting maladies, among them a coronary aneurysm, blood clots, internal bleeding and a debilitating paralysis of her stomach.

More than a year ago, her mother went onto GoFundMe to ask for financial assistance, and last September she and Olivia and their dog piled into an SUV and left California in search of a diagnosis or diagnoses, and cures.

They've had a few relatively good days as specialists at the various hospitals have examined Olivia and shared ideas with each other and with scores of far-flung colleagues. Helen said a medication is helping to ease the loss of blood from inflamed vessels.

But doctors with the NIH's Undiagnosed Diseases Program in Maryland just made a devastating discovery. Helen said by phone from Baltimore that a scan revealed a stark anomaly in Olivia's pelvic bone.

“It looks like a big bite has been taken out of it,” the distraught mother said. She said Olivia will be admitted today to Johns Hopkins, where doctors will perform a bone biopsy and wrestle with what to do next.

Another pressing issue: “We don't have enough money to stay here,” Helen said.

She said the months of paying for travel, motels, medical deliveries, food and gas have depleted her accounts and also the donations raised on GoFundMe. Click here to donate to Olivia's GoFundMe campaign.

Helen said she's grateful for all the help she and Olivia have received. To this day, the people at The Toyworks and Berry's Market are collecting donations in jars on the counter.

It clearly pains her to ask for more. Even so, Helen said, “We need help.”

AMBER SEIRA'S FOLKS, Guadalupe and Carl, glowed with pride when she graduated from Santa Rosa's Montgomery High, from Sonoma State's Academic Talent Search, from Ohio State and from the master's in public affairs program at Indiana University.

Amber now is back from Washington, D.C., where she completed a highly competitive fellowship hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

And she met the president.

Just now, it's best not to look directly at her Santa Rosa parents unless you're wearing sunglasses.

R.I.P., I.R.S: Anyone who spotted Dave Manahan dancing alongside his mailbox in Healdsburg and waving a letter like you would a million-dollar check might wonder what's up.

Manahan explains: He wrote a request to the Internal Revenue Service and mailed it in an envelope provided by the federal tax-collection agency. Three weeks passed.

The other day, Manahan found in his mailbox the same envelope he'd mailed to the IRS. The U.S. Postal Service had stuck on the front a yellow “Return to Sender” sticker that indicated there's a problem with the addressee.


Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and

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