Transplant Recipient Needs Help

by Donna McCollum

Billy Marr's doctors call him the "cat with nine lives". "I've had five transplants since 1986. Three were kidney and this is the second liver back to back," said Marr.

A genetic disease ruined Marr's kidneys. All the transfusions led to Hepatitis C. That disease took his liver.

Now, Marr's life is structured around doctors visits and medicines he can't afford. "It can run $1,200, 13 and up for a bottle. And I take each of them once a day," Marr said while opening a bag that carries the 11 different medications he must take to stay alive.

The cost overwhelms his wife Cynthia. "He has to have at least $50,000," she shared. Marr explained, "That's to help with doctors bills [and] medications that you have to take for the rest of your life."

Medicare doesn't pay enough. The National Foundation for Transplants is assisting in raising funds.

Nurse aide Deborah Brown cared for Marr in the hospital. She now volunteers to lead the campaign. She explained why she helps. "All of us have that right to say we want to live and, even tough they don't have the funds, we should all get together to help each other."

Each day, Marr relies on compassion to keep him alive. "A little bit of humor and a little bit of faith and trust in some people may help a long, long ways," said Marr in front of the Christmas tree that decorates his mobile home. He said he needs the donations but, more than anything, he wants to create awareness about the adults and children who are faced with transplants. "You never say goodbye to it. It's with you everyday."

Donations can be made to the National Foundation for Transplants at They can also be mailed to NFT, In Honor of Billy Marr, P.O. Box 151242, Lufkin, Texas 75915. Any donation should specify the patient's name. The foundation provides a match and sets up an account for patients to use when paying medical bills.