Guitar Legend Suffers Health Setbacks, Starts GoFundMe

Guitar legend Keith Illidge-Loving is asking for help from fans amid a recent health crisis. The guitarist and composer, who has played for Harry Belafonte, Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin, and more, recently created a GoFundMe page in an effort to help cover his medical expenses after he was forced to stop playing guitar amid a battle with rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects joints, including those in the hands and feet, causing painful swelling, according to the Mayo Clinic. On his GoFundMe page, Illidge-Loving explained that he was forced to stop "playing guitar" due to the disorder, and also recently underwent surgery on his left elbow. His condition unfortunately grew worse, however, when a few weeks ago his "right knee buckled and gave out" while he was walking up stairs. Illidge-Loving explained the incident resulted in him tearing ligaments and tendons in his right knee and also left him with a "severely injured" left elbow.

"I'm completely unable to work my flexible part time job. In desperate need of funds to help with medical expenses, paying bills and even buying food," he wrote on the page, which has since raised more than $6,000. "I'm 77 years old and have NEVER been in this type of situation. Any assistance is GREATLY NEEDED and APPRECIATED. I thank ALL those who make donations."

While Illidge-Loving has not shared any updates on the GoFundMe, he has posted several updates on Facebook. On Oct. 25, the guitarist shared that rather than surgery, his surgeon "opted for 6 weeks of SERIOUS HARD core physical therapy for my severely injured right knee... Followed by 6 months of moderate P/T." According to Illidge-Loving, his "arthritic injured left elbow was infected," but "after two weeks of antibiotics, the infection has subsided." He added that he started P/T for both yesterday. It'll be a while before I can return to any sort of normalcy." In a post on Nov. 13, Illidge-Loving wrote, "the update is 2 steps forward and 1 step back," as he revealed, "after 2 weeks of P/T there's marked improvement on BOTH the right knee and left elbow." However, Illidge-Loving said he would need surgery on his right arthritic ankle, which he said is "aggravated and drastically swollen. Probably due to the injury to my right knee." Earlier in December, he shared that his "left elbow is pretty much back to normal" and his "right knee is greatly improved. But not back to normal." Illidge-Loving said he is still experiencing issues with his ankle and recently made an appointment with the orthopedic foot surgeon to schedule surgery.

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Amid the support he has received from fans, Illidge-Loving said he is "truly grateful, touched and humbled." He added that he is "TRULY GRATEFUL and BLESSED with the support I've received...AND those who couldn't donate but sent prayers positive thoughts vibes and good wishes. I FEEL the LOVE."