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A DOUBLE ANGUISH
DEPEW FAMILY HIT WITH TWO CRISES IN TWO YEARS

TWO RANDOM ACTS- one delivered by a hit-and-run driver, the other by a black widow spider -- have turned Terry Basinski's life upside down.

And as he struggles with mounting expenses associated with his wife's hospitalization in Florida, the Depew man isn't sure where to turn for help.

All he knows is that fortune hasn't been shining on him or his family lately.

The first incident occurred on the morning of April 4, 2001, when the Basinskis' 8-year-old son, Andrew, was struck by a hit-and-run vehicle and thrown about 95 feet. The impact left him with 2 inches of bone missing from his lower left leg. He was in a wheelchair and on crutches for more than a year.

The medical efforts to save his leg at Children's Hospital -- now Women's and Children's -- were so heroic that Kaleida Health has featured the case in an advertising campaign.

With Andrew, now 10, on the mend, and as a reward for his stoicism during his ordeal, the family went to Florida over spring vacation.

That's when his mother, Diane, suffered what appears to be a bite from a black widow spider. She has been in a Florida hospital with a severe skin infection for more than two weeks.

Basinski realizes other people suffer greater tragedies. And he's confident things will get better once his wife gets home. But right now, he feels powerless trying to keep the family together.

"It's like we just can't catch a break," he said. "With our whole ordeal with Andrew, we had to go through bankruptcy. Now, with my wife down there, on half pay, we're unable to make ends meet. Financially, we don't have a clue how we're going to get the money to get her home."

Basinski never will forget the terror he and his wife felt on the morning of Andrew's accident, on the day they were all set to move from Buffalo to Depew. They raced to the scene on Clinton Street, where they saw their badly injured son, with his leg mangled.

"I looked at him, and I thought he was dead," he said. "I froze. That's how terrified I was."

Two Children's Hospital orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Douglas Armstrong and Dr. Robert Galpin, led teams of doctors who stabilized Andrew's leg in six hours of surgery and later restored the 2 inches of missing bone.

"They are miracle workers," Basinski said of the surgeons and hospital staff. "There is no other way to describe it."

Andrew, who spent the next school year in a wheelchair, was looking forward, along with his brother, Zackery, 5, to their Disney World vacation.

The family drove to Florida, and was enjoying the vacation, when Diane Basinski developed a 103.6-degree fever that sent her to a hospital emergency room and an outpatient emergency clinic about four times in late April.

She has been in a Celebration, Fla., hospital for about 2 1/2 weeks. Doctors now believe the spider bite caused the bacterial skin infection that has left her leg badly swollen, her husband said.

A driver for CopyMax, he is trying to juggle his job, caring for two kids and trying to find a way to get his wife home.

But he also found a way to look at the bright side.

"I'm grateful she's still alive," he said. "If the infection had gone into her bloodstream, I might not have a wife right now."

Basinski paused a moment before adding, "I'm grateful they're both alive."

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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