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Valley woman awaits liver transplant, faces high medical bills

by Merrie Leininger

Long-time 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 most likely 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 has raised their two children here.

Dexter said she remembers fondly her children’s teachers she worked with as a room mother. Now, 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 still a student in Douglas.

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

Dexter said Medicare doesn’t start until May and monthly doctor’s 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 either.

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

She hasn’t worked since she received an arm injury in 1996 while working at the elevator valve manufacturer Maxton in the Bentley Science Park.

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

Dexter said it could be a year or a year and a half 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 eight inches larger around, she said. It is hard to dress because the bloating can come at any time and she has a hard time moving around.

She never sleeps through the whole night, she said.

“I don’t sleep well. I wake up constantly on a nightly basis,” she said.

Another symptom of the disease is her skin constantly itches because circulation is lacking and doesn’t reach all parts of the skin well.

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

Soon, a Web site and a bank account will be set up to help her, but until then, to donate money to help Dexter, send costs to the K.L. Dexter Liver Trust Fund, P.O. Box 2543, Gardnerville, NV 89410.

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