By GREG RUSSELL
Register Staff Writer
Sofie Garcia, 9, said she plans to sell lemonade through Friday afternoon on the front lawn of the family residence at 611 S. Denton St. in Gainesville.
“To get my dad a new liver,” she said Wednesday.
Her effort, along with more elaborate fundraisers set during the coming year, will be weighed against expensive medical bills for father Rafael Garcia, 34, whose hepatitis C has progressed to cirrhosis following four months of symptoms and exams.
“Young, really young,” said wife Amber Garcia. “That’s why we took this as a shock.”
Rafael Garcia, an aviation interiors specialist with a business based in Dallas, showed symptoms of advanced-stage liver disease near the beginning of 2013. Wife Amber said he suffered fatigue, blurred vision, a lowered appetite, weight loss and jaundiced yellowing of the eyes.
She said the doctors still remain unsure of the exact cause of his liver disease — and ruled out drug or alcohol abuse, since Rafael didn’t have a history of it and, at 34, would generally be too young to have cirrhosis even if he did.
“He never really did anything that would cause it,” said daughter Jordan Garcia, 18. “He wasn’t an alcoholic or anything like that.”
But after initial tests for liver cancer produced negative results, the source of Rafael Garcia’s hepatitis C was found to have a trace up to 20 years old.
“I don’t want people to think negative, and he didn’t get it in a ‘negative’ way,” Amber Garcia said Wednesday. “And we didn’t have any clue he had it. But he’s a good man and a hard worker and he’s coached soccer for about 14 years here recreationally. A lot of people know about it, and know us.”
A liver transplant is expected for the near future in a Metroplex hospital if funds and insurance coverage make it possible. And while Rafael Garcia is currently classified as “inactive” on a transplant list since his liver function is still capable, an operation of some $500,000 likely awaits the Gainesville family.
“We don’t know how much our insurance is going to pay,” Amber Garcia said. “We’re looking at — at least — 200 grand of that. And now he’s on medication and starting treatment in three weeks to help with the hep C. The medication alone, with insurance, is running us more than $1,000 a month, and that’s a 42-week treatment. It’s not cheap.”
Amber Garcia added that more information is available on Facebook, along with opportunities for potential donors to sign up with www.DonateLifeTexas.org.