Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Have a heart

My neighbor, right up the block from me, was diagnosed with end stage heart failure. He is 46. He lives with his wife, and his daughter, and her children, all cramped into a three bedroom house. They lack privacy, and struggle financially, but they do what they need to do to keep the lights on, and the kids fed. All of them. They are a close, loving family. I feel lucky to know them all. When I found out that Andre was as sick as he is, I felt terrible.

Andre is a Veteran of the United States Army. He has served this country on two separate occasions. Before he became as ill, he was an Art teacher in the New York public school system. His own works adorn the walls of his home. To say the man is talented would be an understatement.

Due to his progressive condition, he was forced to stop work a few years ago. His wife works at Giant, our local grocery store here, and cleans vacation rentals. She hustles. Between caring for him, and struggling to watch her grandchildren while her daughter works nights, and make ends meet on very limited funds, they are barely holding it together. No complaints from them, mind you. They just do what they do, and are some of the warmest, most kind people, my family has ever met. Real. They are the real deal.

Andres' condition recently had deteriorated so much, that his heart was working at 10%. He is currently listed for heart transplantation with UNOS, the national listing agency for organ transplant. Sadly, the list for donor hearts far exceeds the supply and it is impossible to predict how long the waiting time will be. Because of this, he is currently in Richmond, Virginia, at McGuire VA Medical Center, where he has been implanted with a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) or artificial heart pump, to support his failing heart during the waiting period. Thankfully, he received help from the VA, as he had no health insurance, and if he had not served our country, he would most likely not be here presently.

His wife was required to be down there for not only the procedure, but his long extensive stay there. Not just for support mind you. She must become completely trained in the care of the LVAD as well as emergency procedures. There are few, if any, trained medical providers or EMS personnel familiar with this device, so availability of his caregiver is of the utmost importance.

They have been down in Virgina for over two months now.  Andre has had a few setbacks, requiring him to be put back in Intensive Care. Think about that. All those weeks with no pay coming in from a job at a supermarket, and cleaning jobs. Think about how very little they have been stretching, without complaint, and making it work, but just barely being able to do so. Now think about losing those much needed paychecks. My own family as well as most everyone I know, live paycheck to paycheck. My old college dorm mate just told me the other day, that by the time her paycheck gets deposited into her bank account, they are already in the red because it is all spent on bills. Now picture no paycheck, as you are fighting to get well.

Things are getting really tough for some really amazing neighbors of mine. And I know they are suffering in silence. And I just can't tolerate that. Especially when this man has served his country, and inspired countless students with his limitless talent. He is 46, and that is really young. He has a whole life he hasn't lived yet, and the last thing he needs to be worrying about right now is will he lose his home, or will the lights stay on, and the water continue to run for his grandchildren . His family is really burdened financially right now.

 If there is anything, anyone can do for them, please email me at and if you aren't an organ donor currently, think about becoming one.

A heart is a terrible thing to waste.

No comments:

Post a Comment