Bremerton attorney fights for life

De' Wayne Taylor
— image credit: Courtesy photo

He has disconnected his phone, taken the pictures off his office wall, and filed away his papers into cardboard boxes.

At 43 years of age, De’ Wayne Taylor, a Bremerton attorney for the last four years, is dying.

He has been diagnosed with the fourth and final stage of cirrhosis of the liver, and simply cannot handle office work without running to the bathroom to throw up, or close his eyes from exhaustion.

Although he has an organ donor aligned, he has no money for the $60,000-$100,000 surgery because he has no medical insurance.

“I need help,” he said.

When Taylor started his practice here in 1999, he had a hard enough time trying to stay up on the telephone and electrical bills. He was a picture of good health, and thought he could skirt by for a little bit without the extra price of medical insurance.

“I couldn’t afford it,” he said. “I was barely making ends meet. The rent was always behind. Going to the movies was a luxury.”

In November 2000, Taylor caught a bad case of food poisoning. Or so he thought. When the symptoms of nausea, vomiting and achiness persisted for months, Taylor consulted with doctors, who were dumbfounded.

After four hospitalizations, his doctor broke the news that he had cirrhosis, a disease usually attributed to alcoholism, but not in Taylor’s case.

“My doctor didn’t even know how to tell me,” he said. “By the expression on his face I could tell it was bad. Of course I was devastated.”

In some cases, cirrhosis is an outcome of diabetes, which he was diagnosed with in his last year of law school.

Now, his symptoms have become so bad Taylor is closing down his practice, and praying to God for donations to fund his surgery. It is his only way out.

“The bottom line is I need a surgery,” Taylor said in his office last week.

“Its a bit surreal to wake up in the morning and say ‘you are dying man.’ I know, we are all born to die, but we cannot say at what point or time, But I am in a position where it is sooner than I think.”

Stacks of paper lie strewn about his office on Sixth Ave. The walls are white. The revised code of Washington State law lies on the shelf to his left.

Taylor was born in St. Louis Missouri to a truck-driving father with only an eighth grade education.

“My father worked until the day he died,” he said.

Seeing his father work so hard without retirement motivated the young man to pursue a college education.

He received his undergraduate education from Virginia State University, and went to graduate school at The University of Akron.

He received his law degree from Western New England College School of Law.

Taylor moved to Seattle in 1992, where he worked a day job and studied for the BAR exam at night.

He was hired to work for Bullivant, Howser and Bailey in 1999, and one year later opened his own practice in Bremerton.

The liver is the largest functioning organ in a person’s body, and is responsible for removing or neutralizing poisons in the blood, and producing immune agents to control infection. In cirrhosis cases, scar tissue replaces the normal tissue of the liver, which blocks blood flow through the organ, causing problems throughout the body.

When the liver shuts down, a person dies. At late stages of cirrhosis, a transplant is the only option to keep a person alive. Eighty to 90 percent of people survive such surgeries. Cirrhosis kills 25,000 people a year, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Currently, Taylor’s best friend Tracy Grier has called countless non-profit agencies, organizations and insurance companies, searching for a way to pay for the surgery. She has had no luck. Because Taylor’s condition is pre-existing, no insurance agent in the state of Washington will pay for it.

Grier has established a fund-raiser with Bank of America which will be overseen by Emmanuel Apostolic Church. To donate funds, call Theresa Steves at (360) 478-6000.

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