Whether you call him ‘Mr. George’, Portland’s ‘Godfather of Salsa’, ‘family’, or simply ‘dear friend’, George Caceres is known and beloved by many. He has been absent from the public eye lately, and what many of you may not know is that George has been fighting for his life - and he needs your help.
In August 2018 George was diagnosed with Hepatopulmonary Syndrome (a rare lung complication of liver disease) which affected his liver function and oxygen circulation throughout his body. He has been connected to an oxygen tank since his diagnosis and gradually has found himself being less and less mobile. This summer, after countless tests, George was informed that the Mayo Clinic was his best option to get on a transplant list. George received a call in October from the transplant coordinator letting him know he was scheduled at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona the week of December 8th, 2019. This timing couldn’t have been better, since his emergency room visits were increasing in frequency - transported there 3 times in November alone.
George and I made the trip to Mayo and were informed on December 12th that we needed to remain in Phoenix for transplant logistics preparation due to the severity of his condition. They will officially be adding George to the transplant list on December 18th, and at that time George and a care provider will remain in Phoenix for up to 24 weeks. Having a primary care provider and two subs is a requirement from The Mayo Clinic in order for a place on the transplant list.
I am listed as the primary care provider but am not able to remain past Tuesday, December 17th as I need to return and pack up Georges apartment. George has a longtime friend who lives in Phoenix who will be keeping an eye on George until someone is hired before the end of this month. Thankfully his insurance is paying for his hotel stay, which is right next door to the hospital, but the room is small and not big enough for two adults to be lodged for 6 months. George is still ambulatory to a degree, but 20 steps is too much and requires him to stop for a few minutes to catch his breath even with his oxygen flow set to max. He needs a care provider to fill his oxygen tanks when attending appointments or leaving his room (3 small tanks), cook meals, make sure his meds are taken, help with laundry, accompany him to medical appointments and provide overall companionship. Aside from the cost of a care provider, George has additional pre and post expenses that he will simply not be able to cover on his own. For the next 4-6 months, these monthly expenses will include:
Care provider $3000
Housing (pre and post transplant lodging for provider) $1300
Essential living expenses not covered by disability $1500
Time is of the essence, so we are asking friends, family, friends of family, colleagues, past salsa students and basically anyone who knows or knows of George to donate anything they can.
If we can meet our goal of $35,000 it would allow our friend to focus on life-saving medical care and healing.
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- Michael Barzilay