Christopher Hartner and Victoria Otto at the hospital
GoFundMe recipient plans to pay it forward
By Mary-Justine Lanyon
They met over a pool table in 2010 and have been together ever since.
Christopher Hartner – a Southern California native – and Victoria Otto – who hails from Chicago – have spent the past 10 years traveling to medical appointments while doctors tried to figure out what was causing Otto’s spontaneous bleeding.
Finally last April, doctors determined Otto suffers from hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia – Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome – a rare hereditary blood disorder that has caused her to lose a pint of blood in just minutes. Chronic nosebleeds are often the first sign of the syndrome. Hartner said that, for Otto, the disease has gotten worse as she has gotten older.
Once doctors reached a diagnosis, they prescribed the drug Avastin for Otto.
“Everything was going well,” Hartner said. “She looked great – healthy – and had no bleeds.” And then, in September, he woke up to find Otto having a seizure.
She was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and spent 37 days – 30 of them in ICU – in the hospital.
What doctors suspect is that Otto had had a mini stroke at some point and the Avastin “stimulated that part of her brain and caused her to seize,” Hartner said.
What this means for the Crestline couple is that Hartner has to be on call at all times to react quickly to Otto’s medical emergencies. That has made working on a regular basis difficult for him. In the past he worked for Crest Chevrolet for a number of years as well as for Mountain Auto. He is now planning to drive for Instacart to help support them. That way, he will be available to take Otto to her appointments.
Hartner’s friend and fellow Clamper, Paul Hartman, has set up a GoFundMe account to help the couple offset their mortgage payments and other bills.
“I’m setting up the account for a Clamper/Crestline brother,” Hartman wrote on the GoFundMe page. “He’s a friend and would do anything for another brother. He’s in a real hardship right now. He’s spending so much time with her that he’s losing out on work. He’s behind on his mortgage and could really use a hand.”
Hartner’s reaction to the setting up of this fund is unease to the point of embarrassment.
“I don’t want to feel like I’m using the system,” he said. “I didn’t ask Paul to do this. This is a very strange feeling for me – I’ve always managed to keep my head above water.”
At the same time, Hartner is grateful for the response so far. “When I get back on my feet,” he said, “I plan to pay it forward – to give back to the community.”
Hartner moved to Crestline in 2003. He had lived in the Rancho Cucamonga-Upland area since getting out of the Air Force in 1988.
“There are a lot of people in this world in need,” Hartner said. “I plan to do something special since something special is being done for me.”
The GoFundMe account is available at https://gofund.me/82dd31a2.