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Correction News

November 2000

Former Sergeant In Need Of New Liver
By Pamela Walker and Sherry B. Melton

DUNN - Marvin Daniels, a man who has dedicated his life to law enforcement, emergency services and helping others, is now the one in need of assistance. You might remember Daniels. He’s been known to dress up as Elvis and pass out scarves to women at the State Employees Association conventions. He worked at Harnett Correctional Institution for 15 years as a correctional officer and later a sergeant before going on permanent disability a year ago.

The 46-year-old Dunn resident needs a new liver, transplant surgery and expensive medications in order to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. But he's not "in it alone," so to speak. Upon hearing his story at the 17th annual SEANC Convention in Greensboro, 1,000 of Daniels' state employee colleagues bolstered his strength with an overwhelming show of love and support. They donated $12,722 in less than 20 minutes on the convention floor to help with exorbitant medical costs. "It blows my mind the things people have done for me," said Daniels.

Daniels discovered he had a serious health problem in the mid-70s when he "gave the gift of life" by donating blood to the American Red Cross. Soon after, they contacted him and told him that they had detected hepatitis B in his blood. Not much was known about the disease at the time, so he received no medication or treatment. While he's known of his incurable condition for two decades, the first symptoms of his disease didn't surface until much later, in 1998.

How did Daniels get Hepatitis B? Most likely the same way he found out that he had the disease: through helping others. Daniels was a member of the Dunn Rescue Squad, beginning at age 16, from 1971 to 1975. Thirty years ago, rescue personnel were not as aware of the risks associated with exposure to blood. "They weren't as strict on wearing gloves," Daniels explained. "In an emergency situation, it was not uncommon to apply pressure to a wound with gauze and your bare hands. We came into contact with blood all the time." Doctors believe it was through his volunteer work that he contracted the disease.

In 1984, Daniels became an employee of Harnett Correctional Institution, where he worked for 15 years before health problems rendered him unable to do so anymore. Neither he nor his wife Ramona had thought much about the hepatitis B until complications from gall bladder surgery two years ago landed him back in the hospital. The surgery had revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver caused by the hepatitis B. The course of treatment: He would need a new liver.

In early January 2000, Daniels was put on the liver transplant list. The Daniels family has been told they will have to wait from six months to two years for a new liver. Many variables factor into the waiting list, making it difficult for doctors to pinpoint what actual number Daniels is on it, but he wears a pager all the time, just in case. Some of the variables doctors consider are how well a liver matches, the medical urgency of the recipient, how long the patient has been waiting and the geographic proximity of patient and organ. "It is not as simple as just waiting your turn," Daniels said. "Most people get really sick while waiting, but I’m ready for whatever the Lord has planned for me."

The transplant surgery Daniels needs costs $500,000, but he has insurance to assist in paying for the surgery. There are still the costs of medicine, however. Transplant recipients, upon receiving a new organ, normally require large amounts of oral anti-rejection drugs and antibiotics to prevent infection, at a monthly cost of $1,500-$2,000. On top of that, Daniels will need intravenous infusions to keep the hepatitis B from attacking the new liver. Initially, he will require large, frequent doses of medicine at a cost of $40,000 for the first nine months. Doctors at UNC-Chapel Hill hope to eventually taper the medicine off to one session a month. But, since there is no cure for hepatitis B, Daniels will need the medicine for the rest of his life. He currently spends nearly $300 per month on medications.

In addition to SEANC members, Daniels' community is also doing its part to help. His church sponsored a gospel-singing benefit to raise funds for the expensive medications he will need and Dunn residents donated almost $10,000.

He says his friends and co-workers at Harnett have been a big help too. "They have been real supportive and often check up on me," said Daniels.

His story has solicited media attention as well. His local newspaper published a story about him and WRAL-TV aired a feature about him on Sept. 18. During the television interview, Daniels told a reporter that he has no regrets over what has happened to him because he always enjoyed helping people. "Even if it costs me my life," he said, "I'd do it all over again."

Anyone wishing to help Daniels pay his medical expenses can send contributions made payable to "The Mt. Carmel Church Benefit Fund" to the following address: Mt. Carmel PFWB Church, P.O. Box 1381, Dunn, North Carolina 28335.

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