Indian Trail family raises money for post transplant recovery
Indian Trail resident Andrew Melvin Dozier received a miracle – in the form of a liver transplant – during the Fall of 2010. Since that time, the Dozier family has worked tirelessly to make sure that miracle was not in vain—supporting Andrew, who goes by the name Melvin with his family, as he navigates the arduous recovery process that comes along with a major organ transplant. In Andrew’s case, the recovery has been anything but textbook, according to his mother Mildred and sister Heather Drayton—as he faces an uphill battle complete with unexpected complications and additional surgeries.
In 2008, Andrew discovered he was in full liver failure—the result of an incurable genetic disorder known as Alpha-1, or A-1, Antitrypsin Deficiency. Just one month prior to learning he needed a liver transplant to survive, Andrew lost a job he loved – along with his medical insurance – as Circuit City crumbled during bankruptcy proceedings. Facing removal from the transplant list, the Dozier family struggled to find insurance – and succeeded in purchasing government insurance with high out-of-pocket expenses that covered “the bare minimum,” according to Drayton – who also suffers from A-1 deficiency.
Supporting the miracle
As the Dozier family soon discovered, fundraising became key to Andrew’s survival. While his insurance covered components of the surgery, a large portion of the bills for doctors, nurses, anesthesia and ICU stays were not. To complicate matters as expenses piled up, during the 10 months post-liver transplant Andrew required four surgeries due to complications that threatened his life and that of the new liver.
His most recent, a spleen removal operation on August 1 of this year, landed him in the hospital for six weeks. Drayton explained that his spleen became enlarged and irreparably damaged during his wait on the liver transplant list. “Whenever one organ fails others are at risk,” she said. “Melvin’s spleen was the size of a basketball when a normal spleen should be the size of your fist.”
Released just days ago from the hospital, Andrew today requires several organ rejection medications, antibiotics as well as physical therapy and home nursing. A hard worker who loves interacting with customers, he is eager to “wake up, go to work, and get back to that normalcy that so many of us take for granted,” Drayton said.
In the meanwhile, the family’s focus remains constant—to raise money to help cover medical costs—the extent of which remain undetermined. Thanks to word-of-mouth, community support and past fundraisers, they have successfully raised $6,000.
In hopes of raising more, the Dozier family hopes for a large and hungry turnout at a spaghetti dinner Oct. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Indian Trail VFW. Complete with a live band, the fun-filled evening will include raffle prizes, a bake sale, and a full spaghetti dinner featuring an entrée, salad, dinner roll, dessert and tea for $10 for adults and $6 for children. Meals are dine-in or take out at the VFW center,100 VFW Post Lane in Indian Trail.
Those who’d like to make a monetary donation may do so by mailing a check payable to the NTAF South-Atlantic Liver Transplant Fund (please note “In honor of Andrew Dozier” in the memo) and mail to NTAF, 150 N. Radnor Chester Road, Suite F-120, Radnor, PA 19087.
To make a secure credit card donation, call 800-642-8399 or go to NTAFund.org and select the “Contribute Now” button.
Prevention and early detection are key
A-1 disorder attacks vital organs. For many this means the lungs; while for others – as is Melvin’s case – the liver. Drayton has a rare skin disorder resulting from the deficiency. “They don’t know why it affects one person one way and one another way.”
A critical key to prolonged good health, according to Drayton, is early diagnosis courtesy of a simple blood test, along with preventive care including checkups and a healthy lifestyle. “There’s no rule that says I won’t develop liver failure like my brother,” Drayton says. “That’s why I go to the doctor regularly to get tested.”