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Fundraiser today to help man with brain injury

Jul 21 2012

A brain hemorrhage may have robbed him of his memory, but Gary Abbott is keeping his sense of humour.

The 53-year-old Saanich man, who is undergoing rehabilitation for his memory, life skills and motor skills, chose Amy Winehouse's Rehab - which has the chorus: They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no - as his opening karaoke tune at a fundraiser today.

The event, organized by Gary's 24-year-old daughter, Kelsey Abbott, is taking place at the Upper Deck Sports Lounge at 229 Gorge Rd. E. from 3 to 7 p.m.

Gary fell ill on April 24, and suffered a persistent brain bleed for days. Just as it looked like the bleeding had stopped, he had to have a shunt inserted to relieve water on the brain, family said.

The family was in the news after Gary's mother, Shirley Spence, was banned from seeing him in Victoria General Hospital.

Spence, 73, said she leaned over the bedside of her son and tapped a nurse on the head with her forefinger to get her attention and shush her.

The nurse complained and the health authority stood behind its zero-tolerance policy of emotional, verbal or physical violence against staff.

Gary has since been moved to the rehab floor, and Spence is free to visit him.

"The surgeons and doctors have told us he couldn't drive or work for at least a year," Kelsey said, adding that his short-term memory is very weak.

Half of the proceeds from a $12 burger-and-beer special at the bar will go to Gary's bills, as will money from a 50-50 draw.

"He was a regular at the pub," said Kelsey, who works there.

"They all know and respect him."

Gary, an independent contractor, was a body builder and worked out regularly. He will live with his mother and her partner in South Africa after his expected release from hospital in August.

"He's definitely getting better, and a lot faster than they thought he would," Kelsey said.

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