Genetic disorder, cancer double threat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 26, 2011

A genetic disorder and cancer has turned life upside down for an Andalusia man and his family.

Now family friends are asking the community to help.

Fifty-nine-year-old Benny Dunn is patiently awaiting a liver transplant after being diagnosed in 2002 with hemochromatosis, a liver disease where there is too much iron in the blood.

The many side effects associated with the genetic disorder have caused Dunn to be unable to work or enjoy normal daily activities.

­­Dunn’s wife of 37 years, Charlee, said doctors discovered her husband’s diagnosis when he had his gallbladder out in 2002.

“They discovered his liver has cirrhosis and he was never a big drinker,” she said. “They did a biopsy and determined he had hemochromatosis.”

As a result, Dunn said she and her husband make at least four trips a month from Andalusia to Birmingham to see an abundance of doctors, including heart, chemo, lung, radiation, liver transplant and liver doctors.

Right now, Charlee said her husband is No. 4 on the list for a liver transplant, but said that could change any day.

“He was No. 12 on the list, but since he has cancer, they moved him up,” she said. “They do the transplant for whomever is in the worst condition.”

The multiple trips to Birmingham have left Charlee with only two hours vacation time and some sick leave, and she’s saving up for the month long venture when Benny receives his transplant.

Charlee said the surgery will cost $500,000, and his monthly medicine for the rest of his life will cost $5,000 a month.

“Insurance will pay for some of it,” she said. “But we still have to pay a $100 deductible every time we’re in the hospital and for our medicine and doctor’s co-pays.”

The Dunns’ family and friends are working to lessen the physical, emotional and financial impact, so the family may concentrate on the healing process.

Friends have set up a benefit fund in his honor.

For more information, call 427-3200 or 222-1183 or make checks payable to the Benny Dunn Benefit Fund, P.O. Box 854 Andalusia, AL 36420.

Benny Dunn is shown during a family beach trip with wife, Charlee.