Fred McClendon's Medical Expenses

I remember the very first time I met Fred in the art hallway of Jackson Middle School. The sun was long gone, and I was the last teacher in the building.  Balancing a trombone, an empty but dripping coffee travel mug falling out of my lunchbox, and a work bag so stuffed the zipper was failing - I imagined myself with the caption "Crazy Band Lady"  hanging over me as I waddled to the car.  And there was Fred, the new custodian with a winning smile on his face.  A  true gentleman, Fred introduced himself and helped through the door.  And that was the beginning of our friendship.

Over the years I have been impressed with Fred's work ethic, resilience, positivity, independence, and kindness as he serves students and staff of Jackson.  When he asked me to set up a GoFundMe to help him get the medical testing he desperately needs and funds to pay his living expenses while he recovers, I was honored, as I know Fred is not one to ask for help. 

Here is his story:

Fred's medical problems started in September of 2015. He had a diagnosis of congestive heart failure due to sleep apnea, and was hospitalized for a week.  Upon release was introduced to a CPAP machine which has since stabilized his heart condition.  The cardiologists told him that he graduated.

Everything was fine until February of 2016 when Fred began to have a chronic cough.  He went to a lung specialist who recommended a biopsy through the bronchial tube into his lungs.  Unfortunately that test was inconclusive - they did not find any COPD sarcoidosis or cancer.

Fred quietly suffered with the chronic cough off and on until July 2016 when he got a new pulmonologist who introduced him to a lung inhaler.  After one week, his chronic cough stopped.  Unfortunately by the end of July he suddenly went into lung failure - his oxygen level, normally 95-100%,  dipped down to 74%.  Fred drove himself to the emergency room and was admitted to Kaiser Hospital for four days.

While there, the doctors started him on prednisone because they had nothing else that would bring him out of the lung failure so he could breathe on his own.  Miraculously the prednisone worked for two weeks.  The doctors tried tapering him off of prednisone to see what would happen, and Fred went back into lung failure within 2 weeks.

Fred agreed to have a second biopsy into his trachea and to remove some lymph nodes for biopsy.  Once again, the biopsy was inconclusive. At present his diagnosis is a rare, unknown lung disease.  His doctor reduced the prednisone in half again on September 20th for a CT scan of his lungs, and he  went into lung failure again, resulting in a hospital stay for one week.  He returned to work on October 2nd.  Fred is prednisone dependent at this point, which is hard on his body and not a long term solution as it is just treating the symptom, not the problem.

This brings us to the present.  Fred's doctors would like to schedule a third and more invasive biopsy through his rib cage to take a piece of lung to do a more thorough and precise biopsy.  It is an essential procedure, but Fred has used all of his sick time, personal time, and paid time off with prior medical issues.  Fred lives alone and doesn't have family to support him.  He depends on the income from his work at Jackson as well as his part-time job on the weekends.  He will need at least four weeks off for surgery and recovery, but does not have the financial means to afford this.   Hopefully, this procedure will provide a diagnosis so that treatment follow. 

Fred's life is at stake here.  The prednisone may not continue to keep him out of lung failure, and he needs a definitive diagnosis in order to get treatment for the root cause of his illness.  Time is of the essence.  

Fred needs a helping hand in order to get his health back.  Here are his words about how he feels about the Jackson community:
       "Jackson Middle School is important to me.  I feel like I'm a part of a family and if I help just one kid achieve respect for others and themselves as I counsel them and guide them when I am monitoring the cafeteria in the morning and at lunch time of 650 kids, I will have done my job. I love what I do and I'm not ready to stop doing that yet.   Please understand that help with this will be greatly appreciated.  I am a fifty-three-year-old divorced man with no children living alone, I have two brothers who love me but who do not have the finances to help."

If you are able, please contribute.  Any amount helps.  I know our community is generous and compassionate.  Thank you for your help for our friend Fred McClendon.

 - Kristin Cywinski on behalf of Fred McClendon
  • Christine Simpson  
    • $40 
    • 47 mos
  • Michael Cannon 
    • $50 
    • 48 mos
  • Dina Temkin 
    • $25 
    • 48 mos
  • Aviva Zigman 
    • $100 
    • 48 mos
  • Eliana Turk 
    • $50 
    • 48 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Kristin Brown Cywinski 
Portland, OR
Fred McClendon 
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