NASELLE — Doug Sandell, Naselle resident and long-time fire chief for Pacific County Fire District 4 in Naselle, has been diagnosed with non-alcohol cirrhosis of the liver and is in need of a liver transplant.
Upon finding their insurance did not cover liver-related ailments, medical bills began piling up for Sandell and his wife, Kim. They have since secured insurance which provides a degree of coverage for cirrhosis, however its monthly cost of $1,600 is a difficult pill to swallow. Between insurance costs, co-pays, and earlier medical expenses following detection of the disease, the financial burden is clearly a heavy weight to bear.
Sandell, 62, graduated from Naselle High School in 1977. After graduation, he worked for 11 years as an auto painter at the Naselle autobody shop owned by the late John Bergquist and, later, by Bill Lindstrom. In 1988, Sandell began working for Harvey Johnson’s forestry contracting business and has remained working for Johnson ever since. While still working for Lindstrom, Sandell became a volunteer firefighter at the Naselle fire station. Three years later, he took on the responsibility of fire chief and has served the community in that position for the last 31 years.
Sandell and Kim have a family of six children. Kim worked as the manager at the Astoria Dairy Queen until Sandell’s diagnosis and, due to time demands related to his illness, has since switched to part-time employment there.
The liver is the body’s largest internal organ, and plays vital roles in neutralizing toxins, fighting infections, manufacturing proteins and hormones, controlling blood sugar, and helping to clot the blood. One of the symptoms of cirrhosis is swelling of the legs and abdomen due to fluid build-up. It was this symptom that led to the discovery of Sandell’s health problem.
“I thought he was gaining an unusual amount of weight,” said Kim. “I saw how swollen his ankles had become and knew something was not right.”
“I get winded and don’t have the stamina I used to have,” noted Sandell, who continues to drive log truck for Johnson as much as he can.
A number of hurdles lie ahead for the Sandell family to overcome. He currently undergoes a process twice a week to remove fluid buildup in his abdomen. Because of his otherwise good health and the fact that he is not a drug user nor a drinker, he is a good candidate for a transplant. However, before he can be put on the list for a transplant, he has to undergo a long list of tests and training. A transplant requires hospitalization and long-term monitoring. All have costs and most have co-pays.
The hard-working Sandell is an important member of the Naselle/Pacific County community. For the last 34 years, he has unselfishly volunteered his time and energy to assisting others during their time of need. For the first time in his life, he is now the one in need.
When interviewed, both Doug and Kim stated their love and appreciation for everyone in the community who have already donated on Sandell’s behalf.
Those who are willing and able to do so have several ways in which contributions can be made to assist with Sandell’s medical costs. The Naselle Okie’s Store and Johnson’s One Stop Shell Station both have donation jars. Checks can be mailed to the Naselle Volunteer Fire Department at PO Box 54, Naselle, WA 98638. A GoFundMe page has been set up on Facebook, however, those desiring to contribute should note there is a 12% charge for their service. For the more computer savvy, contributions can also be transmitted to Doug and Kim Sandell through a site known as Venmo.
A yard sale is scheduled at the Naselle Fire Station from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., on Saturday, May 29, with all proceeds going to support the Sandell family. The volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel welcome the donation of sale items.