Dec. 11, 2020 — Former Florence Police Reserve Officer Gerry Hine is the intended recipient of a new GoFundMe page set up and managed by Hine’s colleague and friend, Ken Newlin. Hine had recently undergone spinal fusion surgery but developed life-threatening complications immediately after his procedure.
Fortunately, those complications are no longer life threatening — but now his long recovery has begun.
Newlin, who has remained friends with Hine since his retirement from the Florence Police Reserves in 2015, is now asking the members of the community to help with the unexpected bills generated by the emergency surgery Hine recently underwent.
“Gerry was an officer with the City of Florence for nearly two decades. He has had multiple complications since his surgery a few days ago and is back in for his third surgery,” Newlin told Siuslaw News. “I have known Gerry since 2001 when I was also a reserve officer in Florence. He is a great guy who has been through a lot since he left the department. I started a GoFundMe page to help him and his family through this trying time financially and emotionally.”
Hine is known in the community due to his 16 years serving for reserve police officer from 1999-2015, which brought him into constant contact with residents over the years. He retired after a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease. Hine's primary job has been as manager of Neil's Carpet since 1993.
This fall, Hine received word that he would need a C3-4 anterior cervical discectomy, osteophytectomy and arthrodesis (fusion) and plating as soon as possible.
He decided to share the story of his medical situation to help inform friends and neighbors what he experienced and to let them know the appreciation he feels for the support he has received so far.
“It’s been a very crazy nine days,” he wrote on Dec. 11. “I went in a week ago Monday (Nov. 30) for a C3-4 spinal fusion that was supposed to be an outpatient deal — stay one night for observation, go home next morning. However, I was in for something I hadn’t quite bargained for. I guess I shouldn’t be totally surprised as I had such a sense of foreboding going into this deal that I had actually made out my last will.”
Hine’s next few hours were harrowing and left him close to death.
“As I was recovering from the fusion surgery in the recovery room, I noticed it was hard to swallow. I had this crazy neck brace on which, in addition to the swelling from surgery, I attributed to my difficulties.”
But within minutes, Hine’s difficulty swallowing turned to nearly impossible, causing him to remove the neck brace.
“The nurses started freaking out, but I told them something was wrong. Within another three or four minutes, my voice was gone as was my ability to swallow,” he said. “Something was swelling so quickly it was literally choking me out. I tried to stay calm as more nurses and personnel ran into the room, took one look at me and the look of shock on their faces was confirmation to me that something was going very wrong here.”
Hine was intubated and anesthetized. Surgeons were called and he underwent an emergency removal of a large blood clot which had formed following his spinal surgery.
“It was a grapefruit sized blood clot in my neck that nearly snuffed me out,” Hine said. “Before it was all over, I ended up with another blood clot in my left leg from laying in ICU — and then later, a chicken-egg-sized clot appeared in the exact place where the grapefruit one had been.”
Hine received an IVC (inferior vena cava) filter implanted below his lungs in the body cavity.
“I consider myself lucky to be alive,” he said. “I told my neurosurgeon that I felt I was gonna die that Monday night. ‘You nearly did,’ he said.”
On the initial GoFundMe page, Newlin wrote, “Because of the nature of this surgery and the necessary in-hospital care coupled with his at-home aftercare, Gerry and his family are still looking at approximately $25,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.”
This was before the surgery complications.
Hine said he is appreciative of the efforts of his friend, and while the prospect of tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills is daunting, he and his family remain upbeat at his prospects for recovery. In the meantime, they could use some support.
“I want to thank you all who prayed for me, held me in your positive thoughts and well wishes. Still not out of the water totally yet and hoping the ‘chicken egg’ doesn’t decide to grow into his grapefruit father. I’m just taking things one day at a time,” Hine said.
To donate to assist Gerry Hine with his medical bills, visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-gerry-amp-family-cover-medical-expenses.