LOGAN SQUARE — Friends of Frank Robb, the Florida gator trapper who famously caught Chance the Snapper last year, have launched an online fundraiser after Robb learned he needs heart surgery.
Reached by phone Friday, Robb said he went to the cardiologist in October after feeling unwell for a couple of weeks. He said the cardiologist told him one of the valves in his heart needs to be immediately repaired or replaced, which will require surgery.
“I’ve been doing a lot of praying about it,” Robb said. “Just focusing on the good, thinking about how much better it’s going to be when [the surgery] is done.”
Robb’s friends launched a GoFundMe on Friday to help Robb pay for the costly procedure — estimated to cost upwards of $200,000 — and help him bounce back after what will likely be a long recovery during which he won’t be able to work. The fundraiser raised $1,390 toward its $300,000 goal as of Friday afternoon.
“There are a lot of people in the world who need help. There are not as many who have spent their entire life in the service of helping others,” Robb’s friend Laura Leister wrote on the fundraising page. “Frank Robb, with his humble, grateful, gracious, kind, respectful and funny disposition, needs help.”
But paying for the surgery — he said he has no medical insurance — is only one of his concerns.
Since his diagnosis, Robb said he’s struggled to find a surgeon to treat him. He said surgeons are hesitant to operate on him because he had chest surgery as a child, making him a high-risk patient. He’s also been told his tall and thin build makes him more difficult to operate on.
He said he’s been in contact with surgeons in Illinois, Florida and North Carolina.
“I’m going to see who’s willing to work with me because I don’t have any medical insurance, so I’m going to have to figure it out as I go,” Robb said.
Robb has been hailed as a hero for saving the gator, Chance the Snapper, from almost certain death in the Humboldt Park lagoon last summer. The hunt made national news, with people from all over the country rooting for Robb and Chance.
Robb said he’s extremely grateful to his friends for launching the fundraiser, and to anyone who donates. He said he’s typically the guy who comes to the rescue, so being in such a vulnerable position is difficult.
“I like to give people my time and my energy. I’m not the person who asks for help. It’s very humbling to have to be that person to ask for help,” he said.
“It’s hard, but I need it. I need the help. Ain’t much I can do about it other than ask for it.”
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