“He Was A Brother, a Vet, and He Died Before His Time”
By: Monette Harrigan
Copyright 2001


Kevin Drue Donnelly was a brother and a veteran:
Who loved life, in his time.
Who experienced triumphs, in his time.
Who experienced hardships, in his time.
Who contracted Hepatitis C during military service, in his time.
Who endured shameful treatment after diagnosis, in his time.

Kevin was a brother:
Who learned professionals missed the HCV, Hep C, diagnosis for years as he suffered, in his time.
Who suffered alone after diagnosis, much of the time, in his time.
Whose ‘memory’ has developed ‘inconsistencies,’ after his time.
Who received ‘secondary,’ not primary care, during his time.
Who received ‘no care,’ much of the time, during his time.

Kevin was a brother:
Who struggled to find answers for himself, his family and vets, in his time.
Who created a new world for others, sadly, not himself, seeking answers to questions, in his time.
Who had a wife, stepchildren and a ‘birth family’ who did not understand this terminal diagnosis with a 20+ year Hepatitis C illness, during his time.
Who lived with ignorance(s) and prejudice(s) with Hep C, during his time.
Who lived ‘believing’ he was, in fact, alone, in his time.

Kevin was a brother:
Who ate every meal after his Hep C diagnosis, except one, alone within his home, in his time.
Who spent days and nights passionately reaching out to vets, families and new friends, in his time.
Who later became sad, disappointed, then angry at the treatment of others and of himself, in his time.

“Why must you be such an angry young man …
when your future looks quite bright to me.”  Supertramp

Kevin was a brother:
Who received his diagnosis four days before Christmas, December 21, 1997, in his time.
Who did not then share his Hep C diagnosis with his parents ... only with one brother, in his time.
Who knew a brother and his mother had been in a serious car accident December 27, 1997.
Who learned his father had undergone extensive emergency surgery, January 27, 1998 and two days later, he phoned his father's hospital room.
Who shared with his father:
"I'm not a candidate for a transplant because I'm told I only have one to two years to live.

Kevin was a brother:
Who did not know his father, waited for his daughter to come back from a Subway with her dinner, informing her of the Hep C diagnosis, ending with, "And where's my morphine button," in Kevin and his father's time.
Who learned that an elder brother would wave at his father as he walked down the hall of his dad's hospital room to receive physical therapy resulting from the 12-27-97 accident, in his time.
Who was informed his father was readmitted back into the hospital via the ER room, 2-27-98, in his time.
Who phoned his dad's room, crying with the realization that he was "going to die," telling this to his sister, while she worked with nurses' fighting a 'body core crash and collapsing veins," on her dad, in his time.
Who listened to his sister directing nurses to draw the blood from a dad’s feet, to go now and get a doctor, in his time.

Kevin was a brother:
Who listened as a sister apologized to him for putting him repeatedly on hold while Kevin was crying, as she held her dad's hand, monitoring her father's medical treatment, in his time.
Who said softly, "Nah, don't worry about it.  You're being a good daughter.  No one will do that for me. No one will be here to help me.  Help dad.  He's lucky to have you."
Who phoned often that day and spoke to a sister about his fears of where the virus had originated, in his time.
Who listened and laughed as his sister, holding her father's hand while he was in and out of painful episodes said, "Go and research. If you're wrong, people will stand on line to prove that to you.  If you're right and it's a great story involving the military and our government, I'll give the story to Oliver Stone after your gone," in his time.
Who listened to her brother chuckle as he said, "Do whatever you want.  Just make sure the veterans are taken care of.  I won't be here; go ahead, do what you want, but stick to the facts," as a brother and a sister laughed and cried together, in his time.

“The best inspiration is not to undo others, but to outdo ourselves.”  Anonymous

Kevin was a brother:
Who knew that a sister and her father were waiting for an ambulance to transport their father to another hospital, 40 miles away for 'more specialized' treatment, in his time.
Who did not know that ambulance drivers arrived, 9:30 p.m., as a sister was sneaking food to her father who had lost over 30 percent of his body weight, and the nurses on duty looked 'the other way,’ knowingly, in his time.
Who did not know his father was placed into the large ambulance, lights kept on in the back as they worked on their father, his sister following the ambulance to the next hospital, in his time.
Who did not know that the ambulance and a sister drove past the exact spot where Kevin's brother and mother had been involved in the serious car wreck, 12-27-97, two months to the day, 1-27-98, in his time.
Who did not know a chill ran down a sister's spine as she viewed the chain link fence that her brother's car had broken, and a sister, stunned, following the ambulance could only think of Tony Robbins phrase, "reframe the reference," and thanked God for each person having survived - reframing the shock and the numbness that enveloped her late that night, in his time.
Who did not know that she spent another night in a chair in their father's room, waiting for a brother to be flown in by the Red Cross to help their father deal with his health and the diagnosis of a terminally ill son, in Kevin's time.

Kevin was a brother:
Who shared with others that one day he "opened the door at 3:15 one sunny school day afternoon," during his time.
Who watched as a man in a suit and tie handed him a business card,"Pinelawn Cemetery," in his time.
Who tipped his head back and said to his wife, "It's for you," in his time.
Who walked back down the stairs to his office, alone, leaving two adults in the doorway, during his time.
Who phoned his family to share the fact that he had not phoned the cemetery to visit and he then requested a burial in a military cemetery with his ‘birth’ family, during his time.

“The true men of action in our time, are those who transform the world,
are not the politicians and statesmen, but the scientists.
Unfortunately, poetry cannot celebrate them,
Because their deeds are concerned with things, not persons,
And are, therefore, speechless.”  W.H. Auden, 1962

Kevin was a youngest brother:
Who led others with challenges, when he was in fact, fragile, in his time.
Who lived to learned that people wouldn’t let him be fragile, in his time.
Who learned to show strength, when it was most needed, in his time.
Who had others around him that never understood the strength, in his time.

Kevin was a brother:
Who wrote "The Panama Story,” a riveting historical novel about Hep C, posting it on the net for others, in his time.
Who wrote one chapter each night, including Easter Sunday, as sick people waited each night, many alone, like he, in his time.
Who attempted to unite citizens, vets, families, politicians, medical personnel and others, in his time.
Who during the 1980s, under the term 'Comment' ended his resume, "Have a flair for getting things done, like a challenge and am willing to work hard."

Kevin was a brother:
Who did not receive appropriate medical treatment and knowledgeable facts from the military or medical community after his diagnosis, in his time.
Who then endured unnecessary tests, after his diagnosis, in his time.
Who then struggled to receive reports from his liver biopsy that he endured without medication, learning later, the procedure was not necessary, in his time.
Who then pursued explanations for his medical tests, and concluded the doctor used the results towards a research study, in his time.

“Nothing is so strong as real gentleness; nothing is so gentle as real strength.”  Anonymous

Kevin was a brother:
Who sent an e-mail to a sister via RXZYV36A@prodigy.com:
 "Yes!  Every time I hear the song, 'My eyes adored you," (Frankie Vallie) I think of her ...
 What I meant by good news being bad news is ...... I could care less what it that has got me sick, all I know is that I feel like shit all the time.  So when the doc said, "it is better than we originally thought, was a way of saying, nicely, I am well enough to be a lab rat.  She told me two weeks ago that I had at least the beginning stages of cirrhosis, if I have cirrhosis then I can not be a candidate for chemo.  If I am not a candidate, then how will the doctor make her fame or any money off me?  Surprise, I am well enough to take meds for three years and be sick as a dog.  It will not stop the destruction of liver cells, only slow the destruction rate down.  I must go to another doctor now, do a whole series of tests and then wait for the results and then be told "we made all the money we could off you, now you need to see my 'friend.'  I have had monograms, CAT, ENT Doctor, Internal Medicine doc, Hepatologist, liver biopsy, and soon we will have all the cardiac tests that the insurance company will pay for.  Meanwhile, there is no cure for this disease and the chemo (Interferon/Ribaviron) is only experimental.  Like I have not done my time as a research subject.  Every time I turn around I am giving blood (tubes and tubes), urine, or some other body part.  All have made money and told me 'nothing we can do,' except chemo (no my speed). So, .......... do you see my frustration and dilemma.  Read from C. Everett Koop's testimony to Congress two weeks ago that 1/2 of all military personnel, showing up at the VA, test positive for this Hepatitis C Virus (HCV.  Later, Kevin"

Kevin was a brother:
Who wrote a  two-page letter March 18, 1998 to Melissa Palmer, MD, Plainview, NY  11757:

 "I am requesting a copy of all documents that I am legally entitled to by law, under the New York State Patient's Bill of Rights, pertaining to my health care provided by you.  I called your office last week to inform you of the necessary copies needed.  I was told by our office staff that everything would be given to me after meeting with you.  I twice requested this from you personally, while in your office, and was only given some of my lab results, reluctantly ...
 Doctor, I feel you were very insensitive to me as a patient and as a human being.  ... You spoke of having the most Hepatitis C patients in the world (3,00-4,000) and of being the only expert in this area.  You stated to me that you had written 'all that there was to write' on this subject, yet I have not found any of your writings.  You represented yourself to me as a Hep C specialist ...
 You spent 10-15 minutes with me the first examination and consultation.  You say it was 45 minutes, I saw it was 1/3 of that time. ...The next time I saw you was the hospital recovery room, just prior to the procedure, where you were surprised to learn that I had questions.  You blew me off, then a short time later, while in the hallway waiting on a stretcher, you had no time for me, and blew me off again.  You saw that I was very anxious and concerned about this procedure, yet you did nothing to comfort or reassure me ...
 I have never been asked to pay $250 up front prior to being seen by a physician.  This I believe is very unethical.... Your staff asked me embarrassing questions about my disorder for all to hear.  When I requested confidentiality in a public setting I was told that, unless I answered, then I could not see you ...  You never came back and never called me at home to see how I was ... You treated me like a liver and not a person!
 One of my chief complaints is that not only did you not explain the liver biopsy tome at all, I was forced to call the hospital the day before the biopsy to find out about the procedure.  The hospital was stunned and would not reveal to me what was going to happen ... I was called to see if it was going to be a needle or a surgical cut.  That is how uninformed I was.  When I confronted you about this in your office after the biopsy you spoke to me like a child and you acted surprised to hear me talk of a lingering serious pain from this procedure.  You chuckled about the size of the needle you used when I said that, "it felt like a flagpole went through me," (sic) said I am not surprised considering the size of the needle I used ...
 I believe you like to me, Doctor! You insulted me and embarrassed me in front of my wife.  You did not explain procedures to me ...
 When I felt like you were forcing me to decide right there and then in your office whether I would, or should, go on these experimental drugs or not, you stated that "now you are starting to cross me."  This doctor I considered to be an implied threat to me in front of my wife.  I guess you figured you had me over a barrel.  Maybe you thought I would entrust my life to you?  Based on what, Doctor?  When did you ever establish trust with me? ...
 People may come to you for help, Doctor, but I will die first before I allow another physician like you to bully me around your office like you did and to rush me out of the door simply because I asked to be treated as the law allows!  I needed that paperwork, now since I have not gotten it, I am forced to write this letter.  I will get these papers i am requesting or I will have others get them for me in a more formal setting.
 Your arrogance and intimidation to person's depending on you reflect poorly on you and the medical profession.  You need to improve your bedside manner tremendously, Doctor.  You thought you had a fool in front of you.  Instead, you were talking with two people that have almost 50 years of combined education and experience in the health care field."

Kevin was a brother:
Who wrote a letter March 19, 1998 to the Commissioner, Department of Health, Albany, NY 12237, in his time.
 "I am enclosing, (encl.1), a letter I sent to my Hepatologist, Melissa Palmer, M.D. yesterday.  Also enclosed, (encl. 2), is a letter I received from her today terminating me ...
 I have yet to receive from this doctor a diagnosis, and today, I am terminated without cause as a patient.
 Where am I to go for care now?
 I was told by another doctor that I have Hepatitis C.
 This doctor was to confirm that and recommend a prognosis.
 There is not much known about Hepatitis C.
 Do you have a list of doctors that know about Hepatitis C, that I can choose from?
 I do not have the strength to fight her and ask that you provide to me an explanation of why I was treated like this.
 Also, why this doctor is allowed to conduct herself this way towards people that are terminally ill, and are easy prey for this type of a situation.
 I have lost valuable time in dealing with this disorder.
 More importantly, I have been totally demoralized by this.
 Not only must I deal with this disease, but I am doing it without information from my doctor.
 She would not explain anything to me, not lab results or advise me, only ordered me to trust her.
 I paid her to provide a health care service to me, I feel this was not done to the standards that you consider minimal.
 Also, I have learned that this liver biopsy test did not have to be done.  There are non-invasive means that she could have done to obtain the same results.
 I simply requested from the doctor during my follow-up visit if I could think about recommended treatment for a week, because I must see a cardiologist on Monday and would like to know if I am well enough to go on experimental chemo therapies.
 I would also like to speak and consult with my family and children.
 I asked her twice, face to face in her office, for any and all copies of my records.
 She told me there were none to give me.
 I could see a thick file in front of her with my name on it.
 Eventually, I was reluctantly given a partial lab test for blood and a two line liver biopsy pathology report saying things I do not understand.
 I was told that there were no notes!
 She did a HIV test on me that I had to ask about.
 She told me 'oh, you are negative.'
 In the doctor's letter to me today, she states that my records will be sent to me.
 Shouldn't I have been given copies of this Aids test?
 Is there a law that says that she does not have to give me copies of this test result?
 Am I allowed to consider experimental drugs, or must I do as the doctor says?
 If I need time to consider this, can she terminate me like this?
 I am very ill.
 I feel I do not have much time left.
 I have had Hepatitis C for 21 years, and have just recently found out (3 months ago).
 Dr. Palmer told me in my pre-biopsy examination that I was in 'at least the beginning stages of cirrhosis,' That would mean I could not be part of her research study.
 This doctor made me pay up front ($250) before service was provided ...
 Great harm has been done to me and maybe many more like me.
 I do not have much time left.
 I am being forced to retire after 23 years in the military as an officer due to this recent diagnosis.
 The Army is waiting for me to send them this information from the doctor.
 My military career is now on hold until I can figure out how to get another doctor.
 The military now may kick me out prematurely because I do not have the paperwork they requested.
 The Military considers this noncompliance.
 I must resign my commission or retire, in order to retire I must have this paperwork.
 "She even told me that I could get a second opinion but it wasn't worth much because she is the expert.
 On her Web page she holds herself out to be a Hepatitis C specialist!
 While in the hospital for a liver biopsy last week I was roomed with another patient of hers.
 This man (name given) spent the afternoon asking me all about his disease he has had for nine years. ...
 I felt mugged and coerced into whatever this doctor said.
 I feel as though my life has been threatened now by her course of actions.
 I trusted her with my life and she failed that trust miserably, and took advantage of me.
 Once she's made all the money that the insurance plan will cover, then, she throws us (her patients) away?
 My wife and I were quickly hustled out of her office.
 When I came home all I could do was become despondent ...
 I just became aware of another patient that was terminated from this doctor for not being part of her research study.
 Either she is a doctor, or a researcher, but she cannot be both to her patients when the patients think she is a doctor.
 I am asking that you help me seek resolution in this situation involving this doctor, so that I may go on with my life for as long as I have left.
 I ask that you look into this matter and that an explanation and my records be given to me.
 I must still deal with the Army and the Veterans Administration," in his time.

“He who asks questions, cannot avoid the answers."
Camaroon Proverb

 To Continue Click Here

1