Living Expense Help for Gail

On January 16th , 2018, Gail and Ron got the call to go to Vanderbilt for the transplant surgery. Ron had a liver and kidney transplant that extended over the next couple days. Everything went smoothly and his body accepted the organs. Ron developed signs of an infection so the doctors performed another surgery to clear up an infection on the liver. He proceeded to heal and move out of the hospital into Stallworth Rehabilitation Center. He was not there long before he started having problems. His heart rate would sky rocket while his blood pressure dropped to unsafe numbers. He went back to Vandy ER and was hospitalized again. Several days later he was released back to the rehab facility. He then had some type of unknown infection that was causing his progression to halt. He had slurred speech and was very confused. Gail and Ron ended back up at the ER and he was admitted to the hospital again. He began regressing more than making progress. He had multiple blood transfusions, spinal tap, several MRIs, among many other tests to try and rule out the problem. He developed an infection in his colon and then a skin rash that resembled hives. The doctors did a skin biopsy in which one of the possibilities was Graft vs Host Disease, a disease where the donor’s cells attack the recipient’s cells and then attack every organ in the body. The mortality rate is 80-100%. Considering the chance of getting GvHD from a liver transplant is 0.1%, doctors were not convinced that’s what he had. Ron’s health continued to decrease and he started having trouble with his heart and breathing. He was put on a ventilator at the end of February to help give his heart a rest. Doctors weaned him off and he seemed to be doing a little better. He was then put back on the ventilator after more heart rate and blood pressure issues soon after. On Sunday March 4 around 10pm, the doctors had to shock Ron’s heart twice. He continued to stay in the ventilator throughout the night, and his body started to rapidly shut down. Ron entered the gates of Heaven the next evening on Monday, March 5th.

My mom is unsure how she will afford normal living expenses- mortgage, car payment, electricity, water, etc. at this time. Before Ron received disability pay each month, she was working 2 jobs- 1 full time job as the director of Manley Weekday Learning Center and then she cleaned houses on the weekend. Ron was on disability and could not work for a couple years prior to the surgery, so he was unable to have any kind of life insurance policy due to his health status.

I have had numerous people ask how they can help and helping my mom afford the insane amount of bills / living expenses is going to help her the most. Even if it is $5, no amount is too small. If you would like to donate outside of GoFundMe, you can message me and I can send you her PayPal address or mailing address.

My family sincerely appreciates all of the prayers and love being sent our way. God is in control!

-Rebekah (Fox) O’Keefe on behalf of Gail Russell and family

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Organizer and beneficiary

Rebekah O'Keefe 
Jefferson City, TN
Monty Russell 
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