More than 40 years ago, Don Haney organized a dance at the Grange Hall here to raise money for a girl injured in a car accident.
Today, Haney is the beneficiary of community fundraising. The 63-year-old man has a terminal liver illness. He’ll likely die without a $250,000 transplant within the next year or so.
“The whole community is really trying to help him out,” said Jim Tuttle, whose daughter’s medical bills were paid with money from Haney’s Grange Hall dance in the 1950s. Tuttle is now chairman of a Lion’s Club raffle benefiting Haney.
Ticket sales at Stein’s IGA were brisk Saturday afternoon. The raffle, held Saturday night, raised more than $9,000.
“The town has gotten behind me real good,” Haney said. “For a town this small, it’s just amazing. I’ve got a lot of friends in Coeur d’Alene and all over the area.”
An auction and three raffles so far have raised more than $20,000. Haney needs about $30,000 more just to get on a waiting list for a liver transplant. Because Haney’s insurance will not pay for the entire transplant, the University of Washington Medical Center wants a hefty down payment.
Haney said his liver trouble turned up about three years ago, when medicine he took for ulcers made him ill. A truck driver for Central Pre-Mix at the time, Haney was given a physical. Blood tests revealed the grim news: Liver damage from the medicine was irreversible.
He now takes 11 pills a day to shore up his liver, but it’s temporary treatment. Even with the medication, Haney slips in and out of coherency. He can no longer drive. Sometimes he goes through three-day stretches when he can’t get out of bed or drink a glass of water without help.
“We’re just trying to hold him long enough on the medicine to get him on a transplant list,” said Lynn, Haney’s wife of 45 years.
Once on the list, Haney will carry a cellular telephone wherever he goes, waiting for doctors from the University of Washington to call with news of a new liver.
Then, within 24 hours, the Haneys will be in Seattle for an operation that they hope will save his life. The Haneys have it all planned; their motor home will be stocked with enough supplies for a two- or six-month stay in Seattle. They’ve already arranged to park the motor home at a relative’s house in nearby Bothell.
“He’s probably one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet,” said Wayne Darwood, Haney’s longtime friend and co-worker. Darwood, owner of the Garwood Saloon and Arena, recalled how Haney helped build the area shortly after Darwood bought the place. “There’s not a thing he wouldn’t do for you.”
Darwood and other co-workers at Central Pre-Mix donated a day’s wages to buy a snowmobile that was raffled off in Haney’s name. Darwood also organized the auction, held last month.
Tuttle said donations are needed for a second auction planned in March.
As for Haney, he no longer works, but stays busy around the house, trying to keep his mind off his predicament.
“Don Haney’s a good friend to everyone around here,” said Ron “Fuzz” Meek, a fellow Lion’s Club member. “A real good friend.”