Frank Rizzo| Democrat
JULES AND REGINA Snead in their Woodridge home. On January 12, she will donate part of her liver to her husband in a transplant operation to take place at Westchester Medical Center.
The greatest gift
of all - life
By Frank Rizzo
WOODRIDGE There are days when the simplest actions, such as getting out of bed, take an extraordinary act of will.
Such is the life of illness that Jules Snead, 52, of Woodridge, hopes will begin to be transformed come next Monday.
Diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, the consequence of untreated Hepatitis C (itself the result of what the Marine Corps veteran called “too many tattoos”), Snead has found hope under his own roof.
According to Regina Snead, 17,000 people in the United States are waiting for a liver transplant.
“People are dying on the waiting list,” she said.
That is why she wants to make sure her husband of 10 years is not among the unlucky ones. She will become a living donor.
On January 12, 2009, doctors at Westchester Medical Center (WMC) will remove part of her liver and transfer it to her husband.
It’s the only way his quality of life will improve.
Snead is sick of being sick, of being afraid to drive, of having to “visualize” doing the simplest things before his body can respond.
A healthy man all his life, Snead began experiencing problems with his health as a result of undiagnosed hepatitis.
His health deteriorated last summer, exacerbated by depression over a personal setback. He suffered what turned out to be a stroke, and while undergoing treatment at WMC, a hematologist saw the blood tests and told the Sneads to make an appointment with the Director of the Transplant Center.
Snead underwent an extensive series of medical and psychological tests to enure that he was physically and emotionally ready for the transplant.
The United Network for Organ Sharing has devised measurements, based on laboratory data, to divide patients into groups that determine who is in most need of a liver transplant.
Aside from Status 1, a holdover from the previous classification system (signifying a patient who, without a liver transplant has a life expectancy of less than seven days) patients 18 and older use a Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) scoring system.
Snead received a MELD score of 19 on a scale from 6-40. A score of 25 or over means that the patient will need a full liver.
Regina had to undergo even more extensive tests to prepare for the procedure.
“I was told of the risks, but it’s worth it,” said Regina, who passed all the compatibility issues. “I can’t say I feel scared anxious maybe, but I’m calm.”
If for some reason Regina had not proven to be a match, other family members such as Jules’ son, Rasul, 27, of Carteret, NJ would have undertaken the tests.
While Snead hails from New Jersey and moved to the area 20 years ago, Regina a longtime employee at Sullivan ARC grew up in Woodridge and is buoyed by the support from her family, friends and co-workers.
Snead had nothing but praise for the Veterans Administration and it health facilities in Monticello and Castle Point. He reached out to the VA for treatment of his depression and for speech therapy after his stroke. He also uses the VA for his costly prescription drug needs.
A Vietnam-era veteran, Snead spent his years stateside in Albany, Georgia, at the Marine Corps Logistics Base. He also attended college there, getting a degree in human services.
He has been a counselor at Kutsher’s Sports Academy, spent seven years with the Sullivan County Youth Advocate Program and lately has been employed by the R.C. Ward Alcohol Treatment Center in Middletown.
Once the recovery process is complete, Jules wants to stay in his field, complete his education, and do volunteer work with Iraqi War veterans.
And live a “normal” life once again.