For someone on the waiting list for a donated liver, Jonathan Wood thinks he’s in a pretty good position.
To get there has come at a price, however, and friends of his family have organized a fund-raiser March 29 to help bring in needed cash.
Jonathan, 42, grew up in the Hanover-Horton area and now lives near Oak Shade.
He’s a veteran of the first Gulf War and served in the U.S. Army from 1984 to 1992. While stationed in Germany in the late 1980s, he was in an automobile accident that required a blood transfusion.
That incident might be the cause of the Hepatitis C infection he developed, or it might have evolved from his work in a hospital emergency room in the early 1990s.
Hepatitis C can take up to 20 years to develop, and when it does, cirrhosis is usually the result.
Jonathan was diagnosed with cirrhosis a year ago and due to the progression of the disease, he was told by doctors that a transplant was needed.
There was more to his problems than that. He also learned that he suffers from the genetic blood disease hemochromatosis—a condition in which the body retains too much iron and this leads to poisoning.
“Apparently he’s had it all his life but never knew it,” said Jonathan’s wife, Michelle. “It can last a lifetime and never affect you.”
The cirrhosis brought the iron condition to the forefront and hemochromatosis contributed to the deterioration of his liver.
Working with doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, Jonathan was placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) list and awaits his turn for a transplant.
As his conditioned worsened, Jonathan found that his work as a computer programmer was hampered. He started working from home, but in September, he could no longer work on multiple projects.
By November, he was down to just a single project and had to quit his job. His health insurance coverage ended Dec. 31, but when the clinic learned of that situation, Jonathan was removed from the waiting list.
The Woods were forced to keep their insurance active by paying $1,000 a month through the federal COBRA plan.
Jonathan’s A-B blood type is giving him an advantage with the UNOS list.
“This makes his chances much better because it’s a rare blood type,” Michelle explained.
In the Michigan-Indiana-Ohio region, only seven people with A-B blodd are on the list for a liver. The ranking system places Jonathan either first or second.
If he had type A blood, he would be on a list with 600 others.
The first step is to obtain a successful transplant, then get rid of the hepatitis. The hemochromatosis is there to stay, but will be controlled with medication. Jonathan will also be required to have two pints of blood withdrawn twice a month to force his body to produce new blood...