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Attorney fails to get transplant in time

Just weeks after a fundraiser was set up to pay for Bremerton attorney De’ Wayne Taylor’s much needed organ transplant, the 43-year-old passed away from liver failure on Dec. 31.

Taylor had no medical insurance when he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, an onset of his diabetes. He struggled for months to find money to pay for his liver transplant. When he finally received insurance, his body could not hold on.

After travelling by train down to Los Angeles to visit loved ones for Christmas, Taylor suddenly felt ill, slipped into a coma and was pronounced dead a few days later.

Memorial and funeral services are yet to be set by the family.

Before Taylor died, he was placed No. 1 on the Washington state liver donor list after a visit and several tests at a University of Washington Medical Center.

He opened presents with his friend Tracy Grier and her family on Christmas Day and was in high spirits.

A liver specialist at the Midway Hospital in Los Angeles where Taylor died told Grier that Taylor’s liver had failed, and that it could have been failing for some time without detection.

Grier was Taylor’s top supporter and led the fight to eventually get him medical insurance to cover the surgery, as well as starting up a donation fund to pay for back medical costs and medication.

She was at his side when he died.

“It’s been really hard,” she said in her office on Monday of last week. “He became part of our family over the two and a half years I knew him. He was a fighter. De’ Wayne was really looking forward to receiving his transplant.”

When he was transported by ambulance to the Los Angeles Hospital he was placed No. 1 on the list for a transplant in the state of California, and he was set to receive one within a couple days.

While Grier was researching ways to fund his surgery, she realized that many people in Bremerton’s African American community were living and working without health insurance and were unaware of the dangers.

“Without it you are out of luck. If you don’t have medical insurance people can’t treat you,” she said.

Grier said if Taylor had medical insurance he would have followed through with appointments more often, without fear of rising debt while trying to pay bills out of pocket.

“Sometimes he wasn’t able to go to an appointment because he didn’t have a co-pay,” she said.

Michael Nkosi, the Bremerton attorney in charge of the De’ Wayne Taylor Benevolent Fund, employed Taylor at his law office before he started his own practice.

He calls the problem of getting affordable health care a “crisis.”

“Amongst minorities there’s an increasing amount of people with out insurance at all,” hesaid.

In fact, Nkosi used to pay $600 a month for his and his wife’s medical insurance with Kitsap Peninsula Services, but he dropped it because he couldn’t afford it.

“For the employees who are self-employed, we just get the shaft. I think the main issue is if economically you are at the lower echelon, you are not going to get good insurance. Only rich people can afford to live long.”

When Taylor started his practice in Bremerton in 1999, he was the picture of good health, and thought he could skirt by without the extra cost of health insurance.

In November 2000, he was hospitalized and was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.

Taylor is remembered by his brother Reggie, 33, as a strong older brother.

“He set the standard for myself and my sister,” he said.

“His hard work gave me the incentive to go on to graduate school,” he said. “One thing I can say about him is he wanted to give back to the community.”

Besides Reggie, Taylor is survived by his sister Angela, and his daughter Acacia, who is 8 and lives with her mother in Akron, Ohio.

Grier considered Taylor her best friend.

“He fought hard to be something in this world,” she said. “That’s something that touched my heart.”

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