Dan & Kathy Dexter

Valley woman awaits liver transplant, faces high medical bills

by Merrie Leininger

Longtime Carson Valley resident Kathleene Dexter is hoping her neighbors will help her with the expenses of an upcoming liver transplant.

Dexter suffers from cirrhosis of the liver caused by Hepatitis C that she probably contracted from a blood transfusion at the age of 14.

On Jan. 19, she was approved for the Stanford Liver Transplant Program and officially listed with the United Network for Organ Sharing after waiting for acceptance for over a year.

Dexter and her husband, Dan, have lived in the area since the early 1980s and have raised their two children here.

She hopes to see her son, Jonathan, 24, raise her granddaughter, who will be a year old next month. Her daughter, Amy is 18 and is a student in Douglas High.

Medicare will cover the operation costs, but there are many procedures and
medicines that it does not cover.

Dexter said Medicare doesn’t kick in until May. Monthly doctors’ appointments and three medications she takes daily all come out of her pocket now. Her husband is a self-employed mechanic and doesn’t have health care coverage.

She estimates she will likely incur expenses of over $15,000 a year for the rest of her life for medication and medical necessities.

She been unemployed since she received an arm injury in 1996 while working at the elevator valve manufacturer Maxton in the Bently Science Park.

“While I was recovering from the arm injury, I was getting sicker,” she said.

Dexter said it could be a year more before she has the operation.

“Unless I get really sick, then I could be boosted up the list,” she said.

Dexter described her days as unpredictable.

“It’s touch-and-go. I really don’t know how I’m going to feel when I get up. Sometimes it’s like a brick hit me and sometimes I can get through the whole day,” she said.

Sometimes she wakes up and is 8 inches larger in girth, she said. It is hard to dress because the bloating can come at any time and she then has a hard time moving around. And she never sleeps through the whole night.

“I don’t sleep well. I wake up constantly,”she said.

A symptom of the disease is that her skin constantly itches because circulation is poor and doesn’t reach the skin well.

She also in on a no-iron diet because her liver stores it and the element builds up and works as a poison against her.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Nevada Appeal 

February 1, 1999 9:38 AM

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