Even in these difficult economic times, the Tampa Bay community has proved once more its generous capacity to dig a little deeper into its pocket when a young life is teetering in the balance. As a result of an outpouring of support, 20-year-old Enock Mezilas, who suffers from a rare acid reflux lung disorder, will be able to undergo a lifesaving transplant operation thanks to more than $40,000 in donations after the St. Petersburg Times' Richard Martin and Letitia Stein brought Mezilas' plight to light.
The more than $600,000 in potential surgical costs for Mezilas' transplant operation were covered by his father's health insurance. But transplant protocol also requires patients to have at least $10,000 set aside to cover postoperative medicines, which can run as high as $600 a month, as well as living expenses. The family didn't have the money.
Without the postoperative expenses covered, Mezilas was ineligible to receive a transplant — a literal death sentence. Now Mezilas' life has been spared, and his prospects for recovery have been greatly enhanced because a community recognized a young man in dire need and acted to prevent a family tragedy.
Enock Mezilas still faces a long, difficult road back to health, but he is taking that journey with a caring Tampa Bay community at his back.