Ladner woman named Hero of Ability

Christina Basi honoured by BC Centre for Ability

Courage, perseverance, dedication - just a few words many use to describe Ladner's Christina Basi.

Her story was recognized Thursday night at the 18th annual Dining for Dreams Gala where the BC Centre for Ability celebrated its Heroes of Ability, five inspirational people served by the centre who demonstrate resilience in everyday life and inspire others.

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At 32, Basi has overcome challenges and odds that most couldn't.

It all began June 18, 2001, just a month short of her 17th birthday, when she fell ill while walking with a friend to McDonald's.

After a visit to Delta Hospital, she was transferred to B.C. Children's Hospital where doctors discovered she had suffered a series of blood vessel ruptures inside her brain, a congenital condition called an artertiovenous malformation (AVM) resulting in strokelike symptoms. It resulted in lengthy rehab at G.F. Strong.

But by mid-summer, she amazed her doctors by walking again and was back in class for Grade 12. She graduated with honours and was accepted into the nursing program at UBC. She had a bright future ahead of her.

But only four weeks after completing her first year at UBC, she suffered a re-bleed of the AVM, falling back to square one.

"If you are challenged in life once and you recover, you think, 'OK, great, that's behind me,' but to get this type of challenge twice just when you are reaching adulthood it's a bit overwhelming," said her father Andy. "She was going to start driving, but that was taken away from her, she was going to go to university, that's taken away from her. Things have been taken away from her, yet she maintains a positive spirit and a positive outlook on life."

Due to her second brain injury, Basi had to withdraw from the nursing program, but studied at BCIT where she graduated with honours from the medical assistance program and is able to work part-time while she continues her rehab and therapy.

"It has been a long recovery because after the second bleed I was paralyzed on the left side, so basically learning everything again," she said. "When they [BC Centre for Ability] contacted me and said I was nominated, it was a real honour. It is nice to be recognized for all my hard work, and the determination to keep going and get better. I've been told over the years that I'm an inspiration to other people, so that makes me happy to hear that."

Andy said their family has learned to put things into perspective.

"When Christina was at GF Strong, rather than focus on herself she was able to see other people who were worse off then she was, so you count your blessings," he said. "The other thing is how you go through these types of journeys is important. If you go through it with a why me attitude versus I'm so lucky it could have been worse, I think that's what people see in Christina is her positive outlook the way she approaches life."

Maya Dimapilis, director of resource development at the BC Centre for Ability, said Basi is very much worthy of the award.

"We admire, respect and champion these people who are breaking down personal barriers and working hard to be defined for their strengths and abilities," Dimapilis said. "They are proving to us that, like a typical person, with perseverance and hard work dreams can come true."

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