Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A family in need

Register-Guard columnist Bob Welch wrote recently about a Eugene family in a pickle. Things are looking better than when he first wrote, but they still need help and prayer.

The central character in this dilemma is 18-year-old Brandon Burton. Brandon recently graduated from high school, and traveled to Hong Kong to visit the family of some school friends. Soon after arriving, he contracted a virus, which spiraled in short order into heart failure.

Brandon's dad traveled to Hong Kong, taking an advance on his salary and an indefinite vacation, and hoped to bring Brandon back to the U.S. once he stabilized. The Hong Kong doctor felt Brandon would recover more quickly in an American hospital, but wouldn't let him make the trip without medical supervision.

That meant a $9,000 bill, which was money his parents — Paul, a furniture store manager, and Jennifer, an administrative assistant — didn't have. They were already down a paycheck because of Paul's trip to Asia, so Jennifer started calling every social service and governmental agency she could think of. She came up with . . . nothing.

However, a family friend called Welch about the situation, and he wrote the column Aug. 11. Jennifer Burton said when she got home from work that night, "our answering machine was full and the phone didn't stop ringing."

Within a week:
  • Candice Barr, the executive director of the Lane County Medical Society, had donated 100,000 frequent-flier miles and found a retired doctor who was willing to make the trip;
  • A special fund at Pacific Continental Bank had collected $2,700;
  • The Burtons' church congregation took a special offering for them; and,
  • Papa's Pizza donated half a day's profits.
And Brandon had a way home.

Read Welch's follow-up column to learn more about the amazing trip home, thanks to Barr, Dr. Larry Dunlap, and a host of behind-the-scenes people (not to mention an atypically smooth trip through airport security).

This is not the end of the journey, however. A family friend tells me that Brandon has been sent to the Oregon Health Sciences University, where the current thinking is that he will need a heart transplant because his heart suffered too much damage. In addition, his dad has been away from work going on a month, so despite the generosity of the community, finances are a serious challenge for the Burtons.

The Burtons need prayer, and anything else the community can muster.


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