POCOMOKE CITY – A retired Pocomoke City native and his wife are reaching out to the community for financial support in the days leading up to and following his liver transplant.
Terry and Beverly Fleming, Pocomoke natives and former owners of Harbor Tackle and Ocean City Bait and Tackle, have created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money, which will cover travel expenses and hospital co-pays associated with Fleming’s nearly four-year battle with end stage liver disease.
His wife said Fleming has visited hospitals more than 30 times in the past year and a half, many resulting in overnight stays. In the last three weeks of January, she said he traveled to Johns Hopkins more than five times.
Fleming’s symptoms began in August of 2013, when his liver failed to process fluid in his body. After visiting multiple doctors, and undergoing numerous procedures to drain the fluid, he was ultimately diagnosed with end stage liver disease and was sent to Johns Hopkins Hospital for medical care.
Since that time, Fleming has been on a waiting list to receive a transplant and has completed heart bypass, aortic value replacement and transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) surgeries to either manage the symptoms of liver failure or to solve issues that resulted from it.
Fleming is scheduled to receive a transplant Feb. 6. His daughter, Heather, will act as a living donor.
“When he was first diagnosed, I did a little bit of research and figured out it was an option,” she said. “So I reached out to the donor department of Johns Hopkins.”
After months of testing and bloodwork, Heather was approved as a living donor and could potential give Fleming up to 65 percent of her liver.
His daughter explained that both she and her father will undergo the hours-long surgery at the same time and will spend the next months in recovery.
“I am so thankful for our daughter to be willing to do this,” Beverly said.
Heather said her father’s condition has deteriorated in recent months, and added that he is no longer able to do much.
“Within the past six months, he has been failing pretty good,” Heather said. “He has had moments of clarity, but those moments are now few and far between.”
Fleming, who is battling the effects of elevated ammonia levels in his body, could not be interviewed for this story, but his wife agreed to speak on his behalf.
Beverly said Fleming’s medical care and medication are largely covered by health insurance and financial assistance from the drug manufactures, but she added the travel expenses are accumulating.
“It does get expensive going back and forth to Baltimore,” she said. “He can’t make the trip in one day, so every time we go up we stay and come home the next day.”
At the suggestion of doctors, Beverly said she started a GoFundMe account last summer to cover travel expenses and hospital co-pays.
“People don’t realize how much it costs even with medical insurance,” she said.
As of Wednesday Fleming’s GoFundMe page has raised more than $3,600 in donations.
Beverly said many relatives and close friends are to thank for the success of the campaign so far and added that those interested in donating can visit Fleming’s GoFundMe account at https://www.gofundme.com/atyezsx4.