A 51-year-old Carson City man is fighting for his life in Carson-Tahoe Hospital after learning he has Hepatitis C just seven months ago.
Since seeing the doctor with what he thought was the flu, Vic Clementi, a cabinet maker, has lost 56 pounds, dropping to 170 from 226. A husband and father for his family, 15-year-old Ginny and wife, Kim, are praying for a liver -- a miracle.
They have waited three months for an appointment with the Stanford University Liver Transplant program. They say there are not enough livers to go around, and not enough time for them to wait.
"Doctors say he has a 50- to 75-percent mortality rate in the next three months," Kim Clementi said. "We're losing him and I don't know what to do."
Kim said one doctor told her she'd have better luck finding a liver in China's black market.
A member of the Carpenters Union, Clementi worked on the remodel of the Governor's Mansion between the Miller and Guinn administrations and for Casper Weinberger. His wife was a longtime teacher's aide at Mark Twain Elementary School and for Bethlehem Lutheran School. Today, she's a 24-hour caregiver.
"I'm no nurse," she said. "I don't know what to do or even if what I'm doing is right. And there's no help."
Until it is determined that her husband will not receive a liver, no in-home nursing care is available. Once it's determined he is terminally ill, hospice help kicks in, she said. In the meantime, the family struggles with the bills. They are applying for Social Security benefits, meeting with social workers and spending time at the hospital.
Since Feb. 15, Clementi has been in and out of the hospital. Liver failure causes fluids to build up in the body. At some point, they find a way out. In his case, the varici in Clementi's esophagus ruptured and filled his stomach with blood. When he vomited the blood and was taken to the hospital he contaminated his home and the ambulance with his hepatitis-tainted blood.
He returned home, but was back in the hospital Saturday after a second rupture. His wife said he quit bleeding Tuesday, but now must be well enough to leave the hospital by Friday to make his appointment with the transplant doctor in Reno.
Hazardous-materials crews cleaned up the contamination, but the Clementi home must be stripped of its carpets and its contents moved out. The family is splitting time between what they feel they must do at home and the hospital. They need help to pay for renovations, every-day bills, to pack up and store away their belongings, to keep the cellular phones operating and to keep their spirits up.
Ginny and her mother are asking people to donate blood, sign their organ-donation cards and help them pray for a miracle.
YOU CAN HELP
Send offers of help to:
285 E. Applegate Way
Carson City, NV 89706