Waiting with Lorie
Manda Jane Macias and her mom Lorie Anthony is not your typical single parent household. Instead of afternoons shopping at the mall together, thirteen-year-old Manda Jane can often be found talking to doctors to make sure her mom is getting the best possible healthcare.
While other girls her age are worrying about which pair of jeans to wear, Manda Jane is learning the importance of being an organ donor. After all, that is the only way her mother will ever be able to find out what it means to "just feel good."
Diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of eight, Lorie does not remember what "good" feels like, according to her mother, Ruby Anthony. Lorie says that she has days when she thinks she feels okay and it is on those days that she realizes just how terrible she felt the day before.
"Diabetes is a cruel disease," Ruby said.
Since her diagnosis, Lorie's diabetes has only gotten worse and is considered "brittle," meaning her blood sugar level can change quickly and drastically. The diabetes has led to serious complications such as kidney and pancreas failure. Lorie was declared legally blind at the age of twenty-four due to retinopathy, another side effect of her original diagnosis. Over the years, she underwent several eye surgeries to try to counteract the problem.
In August of 1999, Lorie was told that her kidneys were failing. The following August, Lorie and Manda's father split-up, and the next month, Lorie's home burned to the ground.
On Valentine's Day 2003, Lorie was added to the transplant list for both a pancreas and a kidney. She began dialysis treatments that April. Each night for a year, Lorie slept plugged into a dialysis machine which did the job of her failing kidneys. When the long-awaited phone call came in June 2004, the family rushed to the hospital where Lorie received the needed organs.
However, it was not long before problems became evident. The kidney transplant worked but the pancreas did not. A second surgery was done to remove that organ. Another call came but that pancreas did not work either. The Anthonys explained that a pancreas can be a difficult organ to obtain, as it must come from a cadaver, unlike a kidney, which can be donated by a friend or relative who meets certain criteria.
Today, insulin pumps and injections do the job of a pancreas while Lorie and her family struggle to pay $3,000 each month for medicine that tells her body to accept the kidney. Add in costs for food and other everyday family necessities and it is easy to see why this family needs assistance.
The family continues to struggle. Lorie has recently been notified that her Logan County home will be placed for auction if she is unable to pay her taxes. Ruby said her daughter has been unable to pay these taxes for the past two years due to the overwhelming medical bills.
In addition to the costs, Lorie is required to have "workups" done every six months to make sure she stays healthy enough to remain on the organ transplant list. She endures stress tests, colonoscopies and mammograms more often than most people.
Lorie said her ultimate goal is to watch her daughter grow up
"That's your wish, you could say," Ruby added.
"No, I'm just going to do it," Lorie replied with conviction. "I want to get the best quality of life I can."
Lorie's family has been a blessing and a huge support. Ruby attended dialysis training with her daughter. Tom, Lorie's father, is a Mason and his lodge raised much-needed funds with a bean supper. Ruby and Tom's church, Calvary Temple in Edmond, has also been tremendously helpful to the family.
"There's no telling how rough it would have been without them," Ruby said.
Manda is very protective of her mother and has been able to call 911 since the age of three when she first helped to save her mother's life. Because complications from diabetes prevented her from having a child of her own, Lorie adopted the little girl when she was two weeks old. She is now convinced what a blessing Manda truly is.
"She was 100 percent sent straight from heaven to me," Lorie said.
Donation jars have been placed at Around the Corner Café, Ib's Grocery and the tag office on Waterloo Road. Ruby said that, more than once, funds from those jars have provided just enough to pay for gas to get to and from doctors appointments. Other donations have been received from Virginia, California, Kansas, New Mexico, Florida and Texas.
To help, contact the Anthonys at (405) 340-0481 or (405) 282-2960. Checks made payable to Tom or Ruby Anthony may be sent to 300 Atchley Drive, Edmond, OK 73034.