Nurse in failing health longs to meet grandkids

Editor's note: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or agency that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Once that need is filled, donations may be distributed to others in need.

How you can help

To read more stories from the Light One Candle series and see links to other ways for helping those in need this holiday season, go to

This woman who saved lives as a registered nurse isn't likely to live another year without a liver transplant.

Poor health and financial troubles keep the woman, 48, from meeting her 18-month-old, twin grandchildren, who live with her daughter in Spokane, Wash. A gift of airline miles or funds for the fare and lodging would mean the grandmother could hold her red-haired grandson and granddaughter in her arms before she dies.

The woman and her husband have lived since September in the Medford shelter of St. Vincent de Paul.

With a home in Corpus Christi, Texas, the man had a good job, but they thought pollution and climate were making the woman sick. People of faith, they prayed and opened a U.S. map; their fingers pointed to the area between Medford and Portland, said Kathy Morgan, president of St. Vincent's shelter.

Two days after the Greyhound bus dropped them off in Medford, the woman was hospitalized for a week.

"They finally found out what was wrong with me," she said. "I had so many diagnoses."

With few treatment options for the woman's end-stage liver failure, care providers suggested a nursing home. Instead, she and her husband went to St. Vincent so they wouldn't be separated. The husband soon landed a job, and they are saving money for a place to live. The woman is waiting to receive Social Security Disability benefits and get on the list for a liver transplant.

In the meantime, the woman works in St. Vincent's kitchen and for other charities, although she is in constant pain and has been rehospitalized several times. She sees the situation as a sort of homecoming.

Boys Town in Nebraska was the woman's childhood home. Despite an abusive mother and abandonment by her father, the woman graduated from Washington State University, became a cardiac critical care nurse and went to graduate school at Gonzaga University.

To help this woman's wish of seeing her daughter and grandchildren come true, call Morgan at 541-951-6013 or visit St. Vincent, 2424 N. Pacific Highway, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.