Andrew Dys

March 29, 2014

Despite outpouring, Rock Hill spider bite victim still short $16,000 for transplants

Richard Jenkins, 31, believes that a black widow spider bite that went undiagnosed almost 8 years ago caused infection that ruined his organs.

Strangers showed up at the door with checks and smiles and hugs. Two guys Richard Jenkins knew from high school but hadn’t seen in more than a decade knocked on the door. One had a check for $2,000. Another brought $1,000 in cash.

And countless strangers donated even more money online and in person and at a credit union.

All because former exterminator Richard Jenkins needs a new heart, and new lungs, after what he believes was a spider bite in 2006 that he says went misdiagnosed and untreated.

“It has just been unbelievable – awesome,” said Jenkins. “I heard from my art teacher from middle school. My third grade teacher.”

“People are so great and generous,” said Richard’s wife, Laura.

Richard has been unable to work since he became ill with endocarditis from an infection all those years ago. And even with Medicare, the family has to come up with 20 percent of an operation that costs well more than $1 million.

After The Herald’s story March 2 about Jenkins’ fight to stay alive and remain a husband to Laura and father to daughters Chloe and McKinley, the donations found Jenkins and his family. But even with the generosity of others, the family still needs about $16,000 more just to get on the list for a possible transplant at Duke University.

Jenkins underwent preliminary testing and had meetings with doctors at Duke earlier this month, and was found to be a candidate for the transplants. But the money remains an obstacle.

“Until we have $25,000 in the bank, Richard can’t even technically get on the list to wait for lungs and a heart,” Laura Jenkins said.

A yard sale with baked goods and hot dogs for sale is set for Saturday starting at 8 a.m. at Grace Church of the Nazarene Family Life Center, 1029 Mt. Gallant Road, Rock Hill.

The $25,000 is just a start of the costs. The family will have to stay near the North Carolina hospital for at least eight months as Jenkins undergoes all the medical procedures that he needs to try to stay alive. The just completed weekend of testing completed cost about $1,000 for lodging, travel, food, and basic expenses.

“It sure costs a lot to try and not die,” Jenkins said.

Many people have tried to help Jenkins since his struggle became public. Lawyers researched the case and found out the statute of limitations had run out.

But Jenkins remains undaunted that somehow he will find a way to stay alive to raise his kids.

“I just want to be there when they graduate, get married, grow up,” Jenkins said.

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