In December 2013, Boise Weekly reported on a local chiropractor and father in need of a liver transplant named Patrick Casey (BW, Feature, "The Liver Journey," Dec. 18, 2013). Dying from a rare liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis, Casey, 65, searched for someone who would be willing to give him half of their liver. His search was failing, so he started writing his will, planning his funeral and saying his goodbyes.
It was by chance that he reconnected with Roni Ziemba, whom Casey had dated briefly 25 years ago. Ziemba, 55, now lives in Arizona and was delighted to hear from him. Eventually she found out about his failing liver, and that's when she told him, "I'm going to be your donor."
Our story stopped there, but Casey and Ziemba's journey has not. Casey took a sharp turn for the worse, and now needs open-heart surgery before he can undergo the liver transplant, scheduled for July 9. Assuming he pulls through, there are a lot of costs that his health insurance won't cover.
After Casey receives his liver transplant, he'll have to stay in Chicago for three months, renting an apartment with live-in caregivers. His friends and family have stepped up, but that means roundtrip plane tickets every week or two.
To help shoulder costs associated with his medical treatment, Casey's friend, Julie Browning, is putting together Pat Casey's Art Fusion Fundraiser at Ming Studios on Saturday, June 21, 7-10 p.m. The event features Americana band Shakin' Not Stirred, comedian Joey Maxey, dance performances by Boise Belly Dancers and Hawaiian Hula, and singer-songwriter Amelia Hyde. Browning is also collecting artwork, prints and gift cards for a silent auction, which includes a three-day stay in a Mexican villa. There's a $10 suggested donation at the door.
"This is the first time I've ever put together a fundraiser by myself in two weeks," Browning said. "But trying to take care of the airfare and help Roni with her bills while she recovers--it equates to tens of thousands of dollars."
Ming Studios, which opened May 30, isn't an event space, per se, but studio director Jason Morales said he made an exception for Casey's fundraiser.
"I think people are happy to give when they hear his story," Browning said. "If his ex-girlfriend can give him half of her liver, I can give 10 bucks."
Casey won't make it to the event, as his open-heart surgery takes place on June 18. He said the fundraiser has lifted a "tremendous burden."
"I am just full of gratefulness all the time," Casey said.