A local mother is seeking community support to help her travel back and forth to Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville with her only son whose life hangs in the balance as doctors seek a liver transplant.
Bobby Mullins, a Cleveland native, said it is breaking her heart that she cannot be by the side of her son, Terry Lee Messer, who is in dire need of an organ donor while suffering from chronic hepatitis C, a lifelong infection that can damage the liver and cause death.
Mullins, 77, said, “Terry is badly in need of a liver transplant. He’s my only son. He played football in high school for Bradley and for Cleveland. He also powerlifted weights, but somehow he got cirrhosis of the liver. He has hepatitis C. He’s been sick going on two years.”
According to Mullins, who has two grown daughters, it was Sept. 21 when she said she knew for sure that her son would need a liver transplant. His health has been fading fast ever since. She admits her son only recently confessed to her that the doctor told him in 2010 that he had about two years to live.
“I didn’t find out about it for a while,” she said. “On Sept. 21 we went to his liver doctor and the doctor said without a liver transplant Terry had less than three months to live. It’s already been two months. His liver is making his kidneys fail. He had renal failure about three years ago. The doctors said if he had not gotten to the hospital right away he would have died in two hours. That’s how bad it was. He’s been sick off-and-on ever since.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Messer’s only hope for a full recovery is through a liver transplant.
Her voice trembling, Mullins said, “As a mother this is really stressing me out, but I’m trying to stay healthy and strong because I have to take care of him. It’s on my mind all the time. It’s really hard. If I could I would give him my liver. My son is sort of giving up, thinking he might die. At first he had hope. Now that it’s taken so long and he’s been sick so much, he’s lost a bit of hope. But I haven’t given up hope. I want him to live. I don’t want him to die. I was hoping if he could get a liver he would be able to live healthy for at least seven or eight years so he could resume his Bible studies. He likes everybody and he likes to learn about God’s Word.”
Mullins, who appeared numb from grief, is retired and lives on a fixed-income. She said it would take a miracle for physicians to find a liver match or a donor for her son, but she is not giving up hope.
“He just got out of Vanderbilt,” she said. “When they took him his sugar was 585. His liver is also causing his kidneys to act up. All I need is transportation to go back-and-forth with him to the hospital and enough money to stay in Nashville when he has to go back to Vanderbilt. The cheapest motel they had near the hospital was about $20 a day, which would be about $140 a week. The doctors in Vanderbilt hospital said if they found a match and did the surgery he would have to stay at least six weeks.
“I’d have went with him this last time if I could, but I couldn’t afford it, and my car is broke,” she said. “The ambulance won’t let you ride out there with them. Besides, I have osteoarthritis, my back has a bulging disc, I have glaucoma and other problems, but I still want to be with my son. I sure would appreciate any help.”
Mullins admits all she can think about is getting transportation and rooming to be able to travel with her 57-year-old son and be by his side in what may be his last days.
Anyone interested in sending donations to support the travel expenses and hotel stay of Bobby Mullins to be with her son, can make a contribution through the Athens Federal Community Bank at 950 25th St. N.W. The bank accepts checks only. Checks should be made out to Bobby Mullins.
The CDC says hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. It is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.
Experts say 3 to 4 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C, but 80 percent of them don’t know they have it.