|Family of George Wood trying to raise money for surgery, transportation|
Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston:
George Wood of Rocky Mount is in need of a lung transplant because of a rare disease he contracted in 2005 while working as an HVAC engineer in Michigan. He is flanked above by his parents, Kenneth and Vanessa Wood.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
George Randall Wood, 32, of Rocky Mount is now bedridden, dependent on oxygen and awaiting a response from Duke Medical Center as to whether he will receive a life-saving lung transplant.
"The only reason I'm still here is the good Lord above," Wood said. "He keeps me around for a reason, and I'm going to fight as long as He does."
George, a 1997 graduate of Franklin County High School, contracted Rosai-Dorfman disease in 2005 while working in Michigan as an HVAC engineer. In 2006 was told he had five years to live. He is now into his sixth year.
"Doctors are not sure what caused this," Wood said. "I started having shortness of breath that became worse and worse. I went to the doctor and was given the diagnosis."
Rosai-Dorfman is a rare autoimmune disease, which causes lung inflammation and, over time, leads to pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lungs and loss of lung capacity).
When Wood was diagnosed with the disease, he tried to qualify for a lung transplant at the UVA Medical Center and was denied due to poor esophageal motility. The muscles in his esophagus are weaker than normal and could possibly cause complications after a lung transplant.
"My esophagus problems are hereditary," said Wood. "I had that problem before I had my lung problem."
A Virginia Tech graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, Wood returned to his parents' house from Michigan in 2008 when he was no longer able to work and needed constant care and continuous oxygen. Due to stomach upset and anxiety, he can only eat soft foods, such as eggs, applesauce and oranges.
"I was pretty stable until this last May," he said. "A person's anxiety becomes worse when they are sick. I've been taking systematic enzymes that are supposed to help with lung tissue rebuilding. Other than that, I am not any other medications."
Wood is being evaluated by Duke Medical Center and waiting to hear if he will be considered for the surgery. The University of Pittsburgh is simultaneously evaluating all laboratory and X-ray data to see if Wood is an appropriate transplant candidate for their center.
"A lot of precious time has been wasted," said Wood's mother, Vanessa. "It took two years for George to get his Medicare coverage and about that long for Duke to tell us they would possibly do the transplant. He is in his sixth year with the disease, and we are still waiting by the phone."
Medicare will cover a large portion of the operation, if he is approved, but the family will still have to pay out of pocket between $50,000 to $100,000, Woods said. A van with a wheelchair lift is required immediately to transport George to and from appointments and to Duke or Pittsburgh, should he be accepted into either program. Gas and hotel expenses will be extreme.
Wood's family is selling household items to generate money for transportation and evaluation.
Contributions can be sent to the Wood family at P.O. Box 323, Rocky Mount, and note on all checks that the contribution is for George.
"God Bless everyone," Wood added. "All prayers are needed and appreciated."