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Archive for May 22, 2009

Not Tonga Related…

Obviously this blog is specifically about our experiences as Peace Corps Volunteers in the Kingdom of Tonga, but this post is about a different topic. I wanted to share a story about health care in the United States. Of course this is a controversial political issue. Yet for many working class Americans, it is much deeper than political banter. Not to sound like a cliche, but the inability to afford health care can be a matter of life and death.

Elaine is one of my closest friends. We worked together at the domestic violence shelter, My Sister’s House, in Charleston, SC. Her family is currently struggling with the inability to afford health care. Her 38-year old nephew, John Wesley (JW) Frierson, was diagnosed with hemochromatosis late last summer. Hemochromatosis causes iron overload and can cause damage to internal organs. JW has lost 70 pounds since September. The family recently learned that his liver is close to complete failure and he is a candidate for a liver transplant at the Medical University of SC. They call it “non-alcohol related cirrhosis.” The transplant team has advised that the surgery could take place within several weeks, however, the amount of funds in his account will be one of the determining factors as to when the transplant actually takes place. They will not proceed with the vital operation until enough funds are procured. JW and his wife, Carol, have 2 young children (Lori, 11 and Wesley, 7) and are an independent, loving, hard-working young couple and great parents. They just don’t have the resources they need to deal with this.

The family is fund raising through the National Transplant Assistance Fund, which is a 501 (c) 3 (non-profit), so donations made directly to them will be tax deductible. His website is:

Living in this part of the world has given me a broader perspective on health care. We meet a lot of Australians and New Zealanders, and they are just appalled by the lack of health care coverage in the U.S. Those nations also provide comprehensive medical grants for Tongans who need medical procedures that cannot be addressed in Tonga. I just wish that my own nation felt that health care was a basic human right. If you are able to make even a small donation for John Frierson, please visit the “National Transplant Assistance Fund” as soon as possible.

JW & Family
The Frierson Family