BY MICHELLE MILLER
A Cooperstown resident says he wishes he could go back to living a normal life.
Patrick Baker, 37, has been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. His wife Jessica says it is not an alcohol related case. She says the cause of her husband’s cirrhosis is unknown. It is not hereditary or related to hepatitis, she added.
Patrick, who was born and raised in Cooperstown, was employed at the Otsego Manor for 11 years. However, he has been out of work since September. The 1991 graduate of Cooperstown Central School has been receiving medical care from Bassett Healthcare’s Internal Medicine Gastroenterology Dr. Thomas Brasitus and Family Nurse Practitioner Laura Davidson. Patrick is also being followed by Westchester Medical Center, where he is on the liver transplant list. According to Jessica, patients are on the list based on a scoring system called MELD Score. She says scores can range from six to 40.
The scoring system only looks at three factors in a liver transplant candidate, says Baker. She says Patrick has a score of nine.
Jessica, who works at The Bank of Cooperstown, says her husband suffers from many symptoms that are caused by liver disease yet has a low score. Some of the symptoms she says he suffers from include internal GI bleeding, water retention in the abdomen and legs, elevated ammonia levels, low blood counts and feeling sluggish, tired and confused. Jessica says her husband has had many blood transfusions in the past year. The more blood transfusions someone has the more prone the body is to start rejecting the blood, says Jessica.
According to Jessica, the MELD scoring system is non-negotiable.
``While it is very important that Patrick get a liver very soon, the chances of him getting a liver from being on the list is slim,’’ she said.
Luckily for Patrick, the liver is an organ that can be donated from a living person because the liver will regenerate itself, says Jessica. She said Patrick is fortunate to have a caring brother-in-law that is a matching blood type and is willing to be tested to see if he can donate a portion of his liver.
``While this is wonderful news for our family, our insurance plan does not cover any costs associated with a living donor,’’ says Jessica. ``We have the gift of life hanging in front of us, but are unable to grab on due to the numerous expenses associated with a living donor.’’
Patrick says he would like to get better so he can be with his wife and watch his 7-year-old daughter, Caitlin, grow up.
``I’d like to play soccer with her at home and watch her play on her soccer team,’’ says Patrick. ``I’d like to see Caitlin graduate, get married and maybe have children one day. I want to be able to share these moments with my wife.’’
Patrick says his doctors and nurses have been very helpful during his illness and have become part of the family, but is ready to going back to living a normal life that does not involve going to the hospital every week or being hospitalized, which takes him away from his family.
``I am thankful for my family, coworkers and other community members who have helped out or have offered to help out in different ways,’’ says Patrick.
Jessica says the support from family, friends and community members has been amazing. She says several people are working on different fundraisers to help with finances. Fundraisers planned include an ongoing raffle at the Otsego Manor, a spaghetti dinner, a bowling tournament, a dance, a lawn sale, a pancake breakfast and a Chinese auction. General donations are also being accepted for the Patrick Baker Transplant Fund.
```We hope that through all these fundraisers and generous donations we will be able to provide Patrick the liver he needs and life in our family will return normal,’’ says Jessica.
Fundraisers planned Ongoing raffle at the Otsego Manor: Tickets at $5 each and the drawing will be held April 12.
Spaghetti Dinner at the Otsego Manor: The dinner will be held on March 26 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $6.75 and $5 for children under the age of 10. For more information call Wendy Lichtman at 544-2682.
Bowling Tournament (No -Tap) at Clarks Sports Center: Three time slots are available on April 10 at 1 p.m. 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The cost is $20. There will be refreshments and a 50/50 raffle. To register call Barry Gray at the Clarks Sports Center at 547-2800.
Dance at Hartwick Community Center: The dance will take place on April 17 from 7 to 10 p.m. It is open to all ages. The cost is $6 a person, $10 per couple, $3 for children 5-12 and free for those under the age of 5. .
There will be refreshments. Lawn sale: Caitlin Baker is helping organize this event, which will be held on Memorial Day Weekend at The Bank of Cooperstown. Items are being sought to sell. A bake sale will take place at the same time as the lawn sale.
Contact Jessica Baker at 435- 2671 for more information. Pancake breakfast: A tentative date, Sunday June 6, has been set for the breakfast, which will be hosted by the Hartwick Fire Department No. 1. Breakfast will be served from 8 to 11 a.m.
Chinese auction: Any and all items may be donated. The auction will he held at the Hartwick Fire Department No. 2 on April 23 and 24. For more information or to make a donation contact Wendy Lichtman at 544- 2682.
General donations: People can send monetary donations to the Patrick Baker Transplant Fund, c/o Bank of Cooperstown at 73 Chestnut St., Cooperstown, N.Y., 13326.