Recently a standard dental exam revealed an ameloblastoma, a benign but aggressive tumor in John's lower jaw. Given the location and size, finding a surgeon that could remove the tumor and preserve the integrity of his jaw was crucial. Knowing that John's livelihood as a singer and harmonica player was at risk, our oral surgeon in Memphis referred us to Dr. James Melville at UT in Houston. Dr. Melville pioneered tissue engineering, which extracts stem cells from your hip, places them in a centrifuge to concentrate and then combines them with bone morphogenic protein and bone donated from another source to create a bone graft. You essentially regenerate your own bone. It is INCREDIBLE to say the least.
Given the rate at which John's tumor is growing, it's difficult to say how much of his jaw will need to be removed. At this point, we have been told he will lose the majority of his lower jaw, with only his molars remaining intact. We're hoping this is the worst-case scenario.
After finding relief and confidence in Dr. Melville, we received crushing news earlier this week that our insurance company has officially denied payment for John's surgery. Unfortunately, finding the best surgeon with the highest potential success rate didn't exist within our network. With hospital fees of $40,000 a night, not to mention the future cost of dental implants, we've found ourselves in a bit of a pickle. A Kool Aid pickle, perhaps? (You were thinking the same thing! And yes, humor is the main coping mechanism in our house).
We know these are challenging times for so many. Support comes in many forms and we are grateful for any and all of it! Put a John Nemeth iTunes, Spotify or Pandora playlist on repeat at home or in your office. Those .003 cents add up over time! As always, your well wishes, prayers and positive thoughts are greatly appreciated! We head to Houston for surgery on May 23rd. I will keep you updated with his recovery.
Thank you for your love and support!
P.S. We're sharing this information not only to detail John's experience but also for those of you who might find yourself or a loved one in a similar situation. Many patients, John included, are not ideal candidates for standard bone graft procedures. Please know there are other options out there!
Also, I cannot (will not) take credit for the gofundme title. You all know who chose it!