Danny Lee "Wolf" Thomas got a call April 26 that probably saved his life, his sister says.
The 50-year-old father of two from Winfield was summoned to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and informed a donor with the liver and kidney he needed was at the hospital and might be compatible.
"We were very surprised when they called us," Thomas' sister Ann Lott said, adding the family had been told the wait for the organs might be until August or later.
The next morning at 8:30, after determining Thomas and the donor were a match, doctors began the successful 13-hour double transplant procedure, Lott said.
"The doctors are saying he's doing remarkably well; they can't get over it," she said.
"He was looking forward to this and he went into it with a positive attitude and that helped a lot."
For two years, Thomas has battled Hepatitis C, a disease that causes liver failure, said Thomas' wife, Kim.
Things only got worse when Danny developed necrotizing fasciitis, a skin infection that required harsh antibiotics to cure and led to the failure of his kidneys, she said.
Three days a week, he drove to dialysis appointments and was forced to quit his job in construction.
In November 2004, Thomas was placed on the Emory organ transplant list and doctors told the couple a double transplant was Danny's best hope, Kim said.
In the meantime, healthcare costs skyrocketed as the Thomases were forced to pay $1,500 a month to maintain insurance.
Kim suddenly found herself the breadwinner with a part-time job at Kroger with Danny unable to work.
"It's been difficult because before I was a stay-at-home mom and now he's the stay-at-home dad," she said.
Facing mounting health insurance premiums and the realization that they would be forced to pay 20 percent of the more than $200,000 transplant cost insurance won't cover, not to mention the anti-rejection medication that Danny must take for life, the Thomases started selling baked goods and raffling off gift baskets. They hoped to raise $10,000 to $20,000 before the surgery.
The transplant came about so unexpectedly, Lott said, the family didn't have time to meet their goal.
"They had told us it would probably be at least six months so we were planning on August and planning other (fundraisers)," she said. "But that's kind of on hold."
The family has set up a special account for Danny at Queensborough National Bank and Trust on Washington Road in Evans.
For now, doctors have told the family that Danny should be released from the hospital into a transplant recipient transition facility called the Mason House, which provides shelter for patients and family members.
There, Danny will undergo several lab tests and examinations each week for at least four weeks, before he can return home to Winfield.
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