Firefighter raising money to help pay medical bills following liver transplant
SAN LEON, TX (KTRK) -- A volunteer firefighter in Galveston County is, himself, in need of a rescue. Years after helping building a local fire house and keeping people safe during Hurricane Ike, he is fighting for his health and his financial survival, and neither of which is easy.
Roland Rodriguez has spent years helping his neighbors as a San Leon volunteer firefighter. Now he is the one in need. He's faced with close to $600,000 in medical bills after a liver transplant.
It was a transplant that happened just a week after he went on the registry. A distant relative died and her family graciously gave Rodriguez her liver, saving his life.
"It was definitely a miracle," he said. "Otherwise, I would have been sitting on that transplant list for a year to six years. There's no telling."
"I don't think that we could do without him," his wife, Cynthia Rodriguez, said.
But that quick transplant left the family with no time to save any money for the procedure. They've since sold tamales, and his nine-year-old Madison even raised a few hundred dollars.
"She went out through the neighborhood and sold a lot of cookies and had a lot of cookie orders," Cynthia said.
"I wanted to raise money so we could pay the bills," Madison said.
It's not nearly enough and so Rodriguez is now raffling off a classic car that he and his son rebuilt together.
And his fellow firefighters, knowing the need, are also pitching in. They're hosting a fundraiser and auction in June for a man they call part of their family.
"He helped out the community when it was in need, and we're here to help him," San Leon Fire Department volunteer firefighter Scott Lyons said. "The whole community has been great. This is the best community in Galveston County as far as I'm concerned."
And while raising money is a big goal for the Rodriguez family, they're hoping the message most take away from their story is about another kind of gift.
"If you can, become a donor," Roland said.
Rodriguez is still recovering. He's been out of work, though, and so has his wife, as she stays home to take care of him and their three children.
They're hopeful the raffle and the fundraiser will jumpstart that financial recovery.
local, tom abrahams
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