By Jasmine Willis
SPRINGWATER — The community gathered in support of one of their own who is anticipating a double lung transplant by the end of the year.
Allen Henry, Springwater Code Enforcement officer was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) in 2010. The average life expectancy of someone with this lung disease is three to five years, but with an advanced treatment procedure it can slow down the progression of the disease. This treatment costs $95,000 a year and is only available at a special pharmacy. Henry was able to get on the drug trials due to the fact that he responded well to the treatments. However, it was this price that opened his eyes to how much it would take to survive.
After multiple visits to the Cleveland Clinic, hundreds of tests, scans, and medicine his lungs can no longer work properly on their own, and he needs to be on oxygen 24 hours seven days a week.
It was decided at Henry’s last visit to the Cleveland Clinic that he was able to be on the list awaiting a double lung transplant. He hopes to be able to get the surgery done by the end of the year. There is a scheduled appointment with the doctors in the start of September to prepare him for what is ahead.
When that window opens for the double lung transplant Henry will have a four-hour window to get to the Cleveland Clinic for the surgery. He will be airlifted from the Canandaigua airport. The cost of this medical flight will be $10,000, and on top of that he will be required to stay in the hospital for three months after the surgery.
Deborah Babbitt-Henry, Allen’s wife, held a large benefit for him at the Springwater American Legion on Aug. 10.
“It took us months to organize this event, but we sold out before the benefit. We had 235 chicken dinners and they all sold out,” she said. “It has been amazing. The love and support from the community is unbelievable. The support shown to Al and me is from God.”
Babbitt-Henry added that there was an outpour of support from Naples, Springwater, Dansville, Wayland, Honeoye, Geneseo and Letchworth State Park. The basket raffle and 50/50 raffles were a huge success. Gift certificates came from all over such as: Martin’s Auto Repair, Dansville Napa Auto Parts, Letchworth State Park-The Pines, Hornell Spa and Nails, Dogwood Floral, Renee’s Catering, The Vineyard’s in Naples, Minnehan’s, Simply Autumn’s, and Massages by Amanda.
Many people helped with the benefit like Donna Williams who donated 250 cupcakes, baskets, and bought chicken dinners. The McCallums and Fletchers helped a lot with the event. Larry Gnau cooked all the chicken dinners. The chicken was all local from Ronnie Becker. Many others in the community rallied to help the Henry Family.
“We found out that the cost of the medical flight is not covered by insurance, and that is going to cost us another $10,000. All of the money we are getting donated to us will go into his Help Hope Live account. This money will be used for all of his medical expenses, and whatever is left over is what we will have to come up with on our own,” Babbitt-Henry said. “This is a charity that takes the funds all in Al’s name and uses it only for the medical expenses. They do this at the Cleveland Clinic for a lung transplant. That is why I need to put all of the donations into that account for Al. They will pay whatever is collected for Al, and we will get a bill for whatever is left to pay.”
Babbitt-Henry added the cost of expenses look to be about $50,000 for Allen’s transplant surgery.
“We will have a post-transplant medical team who will be with him at all times for the 90 days he is in the hospital. I have a designated group of family and friends that will provide a medical circle for him. They will be his support group when I can’t be there with him,” Babbitt-Henry said. “I can be there for a little while, but I still have to get back to work. I have the town. That is why I have the medical circle of people who will be there, so that I can get back to work.”
Babbitt-Henry said the support has already been fantastic from her fellow board members to the community as a whole.
“People who have this lung disease normally don’t make it this long. We are very lucky that Al was able to get on this new drug trial. He reacted very positively to the drug, and we were able to get him on it. We had a top doctor in Highland Hospital, Dr. Michael Kallay, that got Al in the drug trial right away. When I found out how much it would cost to have this drug, I found out the cost of a human life. It costs $95,000 a year for this drug and we can only get it at one special pharmacy. I had to fight with our insurance company to let us have the drug.”
Babbitt-Henry said the drug has kept Allen alive this whole time, and she is very thankful for his good spirits.
All funds must be through Help Hope Live, which is a charity through the clinic. The key ways to help make a donation to Allen Henry are the following: check or money order made out to Help Hope Live with Allen D Henry #15817 on the memo line and mailed to Help Hope Live, 2 Radnor Corporate Center, Suite 100, 100 Matsonford Road, Radnor PA, 19087; or by credit card to https://helphopelive.org/campaign/15817