Twenty years ago today Geov Parrish got a new lease on life when he became the rare recipient of a double organ transplant—pancreas and kidney. But that lease didn’t come cheap: Two decades of health care costs and crises have taken their toll. That, combined with a low-paid career in journalism and social justice activism, has left Geov virtually broke and homeless. As Geov explains in his pretty damn depressing holiday letter (pdf), it’s been a tough year:
I was getting sicker, and we discovered that I also was, after the stress and couch- surfing of the summer, suffering from dangerously high blood pressure. By the time I got that under control I was also dealing with a dental emergency – I finally got a tooth pulled and immediately started feeling a lot better. Best my guess is that I was suffering from an infection (via the tooth) that was doing a number on my health for two months. Welcome to America, where dental care isn’t considered health care. I’ve still got a lot of dental work pending that I cannot even remotely contemplate affording – $7,200 was the estimate two years ago.
While dealing with the tooth and the elevated blood pressure, it also emerged that my transplanted kidney was in trouble. A biopsy in September showed that about a third of my non-native kidney was permanently damaged, with scarring in progress on another sixth. I also had some sort of liver blockage. A surgery to remove the liver blockage in September cleared the way for a steroid treatment to attack a suspected kidney infection – but at that point my kidney function suddenly got better. It was probably a function of the tooth infection, not an infection of the kidney, but the long-term kidney damage is still real and worrisome. Usually, you’d expect my non-native pancreas to have problems first, but (knock wood) it’s doing great. The kidney prognosis is still unclear, though. I expect that in 2015 there’s a good chance I’ll be added to a transplant list for another kidney, to replace the one that’s done so well for so long.
If it sounds crazy that our health care system would pay to give Geov another kidney transplant, but not pay to provide the dental care that might have prevented the infection that damaged his first transplant, well, God bless America!
Whatever. At least Geov has friends. On Monday I asked HA readers, many of whom have enjoyed Geov’s writing here on this blog, in the Seattle Weekly, and in Eat the State, and your generosity has been heartening. The link has been making the rounds on Facebook, and Geov tells me that he received about $2,500 from about 40 different people over the first 24 hours. A big thanks to everybody who has given.
But I hope we can do more. So please give by clicking on the “Donate” button, or by sending a check:
PO Box 85541
Seattle WA 98145
Also, Geov and Revel are still looking for an affordable apartment that won’t set off her multiple chemical sensitivity disorder. If you’ve got a place for them to stay for a few weeks, it would be greatly appreciated. If you’ve got a lead on an apartment, let us know.
Geov has given a ton to the community over the past 20 years. Please give a little something back to help him get through this very difficult time.