COST OF TRANSPLANT HAS FAMILY WORRIED

January 12, 2001 12:00 am

By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Five years ago, a little boy in Crescent City was diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder. This past November, Derrick Desomber, now 12, was told he needed a new kidney. The expense of the transplant procedure has the Desombers afraid of financial ruin.

Fortunately for Derrick, his young, healthy mother, Michelle Desomber qualifies to be his kidney donor.

He is scared, and he doesnt fully understand it, but he was much more at ease when he found out it was my kidney, Michelle Desomber said.

She is a nurse at Sutter Coast Hospital, but, she said, having a nurses insight doesnt make dealing with her sons crisis easier.

Mother and son will undergo transplant surgery Feb. 7, at Stanford University Hospital. Recovery will take about four months, forcing Michelle Desomber and her husband Earl Desomber to miss several weeks of work and to build up thousands of dollars in medical bills.

The Desombers said they are worried these bills may leave the family bankrupt.

Its our childs life and we will bankrupt our household if necessary. But, weve worked hard for what we have, and to lose it all over a medical problem doesnt make sense to me, Michelle Desomber said.

With the help of her friend, Arlene Kasper, who is also Desombers doctors wife, a trust fund has been set up at Tricounties Bank. Kasper is on a campaign to raise $20,000 for the family.

Some families going through this lose everything. We will basically have to set up a whole separate household down there. Plus the travel expenses, plus the medical expenses. I just dont know if we can do it, she said.

Because both Earl and Michelle Desomber earn a decent income, monetary help from the government is not available to them, Michelle Desomber said.

They go by what our income was last year. They dont take into account that I will miss four months of income this year to go through this procedure, she said.

So far the Tricounties Bank trust fund has about $235 in it. Kasper said donations can be deposited by calling or visiting the bank on Third Street in Crescent City.

Michelle Desomber said even if the transplant of her kidney into her son goes well, that kidney will only last about 20 years.

It would be like getting a splinter in your hand. Eventually, your body will pop it out. His body will be trying to get rid of that kidney, she said. And commonly, the body can accomplish that in 15 to 25 years. At that time, Derrick Desomber will have to go through the transplant procedure all over again.

In the mean time, he will be forced to take expensive immuno-suppressive drugs to slow his bodys rejection of his mothers donated kidney.

So, even when the four months are over, well still be going through a lot, Michelle Desomber said.

Kasper said interested parties can contact her with any questions about the Desombers at 707-464-4116.

Arlene has been a Godsend through all of this. Its so difficult to get everything in order and Arlene has thought of everything. I cant thank her enough, Michelle said.