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Autoimmune disease robbing local man of independence

PLATTSBURGH For Randy Duprey, every day is a challenge. Randy was diagnosed in September 2005 with a severe case of scleroderma, an autoimmune disease which attacks his joints, skin and organs. A form of sclerosis, scleroderma causes Randys joints and skin to harden and even has affected his heart, lungs and kidneys. The degenerating disease started gradually for Randy, but has progressed rapidly in the last year. Many of the things Randy could do on his own bathe himself, clothe himself and prepare his own meals are abilities of which he has been robbed. With the help of his wife, Kate, seemingly everyday activities to most have taken the work of two to complete. I was very depressed when I first found out, Randy admitted about his diagnosis. I met Kate six months after I was diagnosed; she was the inspiration I needed to fight this disease. She got me up moving on my good days and was able to be there and support me on my bad days. As the disease progressed, she stood by my side and has never given up on me. Since his condition has worsened, the Dupreys have had to make major changes to their daily routine. Randy has since resigned from his job as a corrections officer; Kate has resigned from her five-year basketball coaching career with the Beekmantown Central School District and the Lake Champlain Lakers. At this point Randy cannot do much on his own. He feels his quality of life has been taken from him, said Kate. He has lost all use of his hands and he was very crafty with wood and building a lot of things so that has been difficult. Perhaps what is the most upsetting for Randy is he is unable to help care for the couples young son, Alek, who was born against the odds on July 7, 2007. Because the Dupreys only had eight weeks to conceive before Randy started chemotherapy and the fact he was born on 7/7/07, the couple refers to their son as their miracle baby. In trying to treat the disease, for which there is no known cause or cure, Randy has not only gone through unsuccessful rounds of chemotherapy, he must also take 26 pills a day to manage each part of body the disease has affected. The most promising option Randy has for essentially getting his life back is to have a stem cell transplant to regenerate his immune system. His brother, Kevin, was confirmed by doctors at Duke University as an identical match and more than suitable candidate for donating stem cells for the procedure. One of the perhaps most devastating blows through the ordeal was the insurance Randy had while a corrections officer would not cover his treatment, which was considered experimental. Through Kates insurance, Randy was eventually approved for the procedure at Duke University, through special requests from one of Randys doctors at the university and people as high up as Sen. Hillary R. Clinton. Its just been unbelievable, Kate said of the phone call the two received acknowledging Randy was approved. I just felt a rush of hope come over me. Randy and I just sat and cried. Should the procedure prove a success, Randy will no longer need the strict regimen of pills and could regain a lot of his mobility. Reclaiming his independence will not come without a price, however. In addition to needing lots of physical therapy and some corrective surgeries, the estimated cost of Randys treatment ranges from $300,000-$500,000 with complications, it could be up to $1 million, said Kate. While their insurance will cover much of that expense, the amount the Dupreys must contribute is still steep. Benefits have been held by friend and co-workers to help them thus far with day-to-day living expenses and even the familys mortgage. Our support system is unbelievable. The range of individuals we have been able to turn to for support and love is just amazing, said Kate. The support will continue once again as another benefit is planned for the Duprey family Sunday, Feb. 17, at Olive Ridleys, 37 Court St., Plattsburgh. The family-oriented event, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., will consist of performances by three bands, childrens activities and raffles. A spaghetti dinner will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. With the love and support from family and friends I am determined to get through this, Randy said. To learn more about Randys disease, send him well wishes or find out the what is happening with his progress, visit the Duprey familys blog at www.thedupreyfamily.blogspot.com .

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