Imagine for a moment this medical nightmare. You go in for a knee replacement, routine right? Not when you end up contracting a post-surgical MRSA infection while in the hospital. You spend the next three years hospitalized on a cocktail of antibiotics desperately trying to eliminate the infection and to try to save your leg. All the different high-powered antibiotics are wreaking havoc on all the systems of your body. The effort to save your leg fails and you end up having your leg amputated from the knee down. The years of medications to try and eliminate the deadly MRSA infection have literally killed your kidneys, and you are left overweight, diabetic and in a wheelchair.
This is the nightmare that long time islander and one-time Cortez fisherman Gary Rosen has had unfold in front of him over the last 10 years. For the past two years Gary slipped into end stage kidney failure and has had to undergo dialysis three days a week, 4 1/2 hours a day just to stay alive while he awaits a new kidney. That’s 29 ½ days a year on dialysis (a statistic Gary told me with a sideways grin that he wished he had never calculated) The long process to even qualify for a transplant has been one of sheer grit and determination. He had overcome the weight gain and diabetes he developed during his long hospitalization. He achieved this by adhering to a strict predominantly plant-based diet with very little white meat and seafood, steering clear of red meat and processed foods, and getting as much exercise as a man in a wheelchair possibly can. To be eligible for kidney you have to fit a certain cardiac and overall health profile, which he has finally achieved. Did I mention that he did all this while caring for his 82-year-old mother who lives with him? Yes…he is THAT guy. Gary’s mom was under hospice care a year ago, but has graduated out of hospice under the close watch and care of her son, by following the same strict diet, and is now close to being weaned off some of her meds and oxygen. He helped her achieve that while he was literally fighting for his own life.
Getting a new kidney is not cheap and although he has good insurance it only covers 80% of most of the procedures. His out-of-pocket expenses have mounted considerably and will soon skyrocket now that he is qualified and on the waiting list for an organ. His anti-rejection medications alone will be in the neighborhood of $4,000 a month. That will continue to be an ongoing cost for the rest of his life.
Cortez is yet again stepping up to take care of one of their own. A benefit for Gary will be held on Sunday, February 11 from 2 to 7 PM at Cortez Bait and Seafood located at 4528 119th Street W. Cortez, Florida. Hometown favorites Eric Von and Tim Chandler will be providing the entertainment on the docks, while the Swordfish Grill and Tiki is sponsoring the beer and wine cash bar, with all the proceeds going directly to Gary’s Kidney Fund. The food will be catered by Fratello’s Pizzeria. There will be a silent auction, raffles and a 50/50 drawing. If you would like to donate an item for auction or raffle you can contact me, Rose Lipke at 941-725-9189 or Kat Cox at the Swordfish Grill and Tiki. The link to the Facebook event is: https://www.facebook.com/events/311017652738832/?ti=icl If you can’t make it to the event to support this incredible human, you can donate directly through Gary’s GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/4nm8ds8
I hope everyone that reads this tries to participate in this effort in some way, even if it is a small one. This could happen to any of us, and we need to support one another when nightmares like this happen to those around us. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for whatever you can do to help!
Rose Lipke photos