EASTON — Nick LaBrie, a longtime local paramedic in need of a liver transplant, is “humbled” after awaking in a hospital to learn the community donated more than $25,000 to his family via GoFundMe, according to online updates from LaBrie’s sister.
LaBrie, who has been living with autoimmune hepatitis, a chronic liver disease, since he was 12 years old, awoke on Friday, Nov. 29, after spending one week on life support, said his younger sister, Michelle LaBrie Matthews.
LaBrie lives in Church Hill and works as a paramedic field training officer in Kent County, Del., but he has worked with the Maryland State Police, Goodwill Volunteer Fire Department in Centreville and emergency services departments in Caroline, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties, as well as rescue squads with Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.
In the hope of providing some financial relief for LaBrie’s wife Teira and their two children while he is in the hospital, Matthews created a GoFundMe page on Nov. 23, with a $10,000 goal.
The page, titled “A paramedic’s own emergency,” exceeded its original goal within 24 hours, prompting Matthews to adjust the page’s goal to $20,000. The amount collected hit more than $25,177 from 310 donors, as of Saturday morning, Nov. 30.
Upon posting the page, Matthews said LaBrie “in no way wants to ask for handouts or (to) feel as though he can not provide,” but she said she hopes “Teira may be able to have as much time off without leave as she needs, while still covering health insurance premiums, etc.”
LaBrie’s co-workers in Delaware also donated their paid leave time to LaBrie, so he and his family could focus on his recovery, said Mike Clarke, LaBrie’s supervisor at Kent County Levy Court Department of Emergency Services.
“As soon as we knew Nick was in trouble, that’s when the rallying started,” Clarke said. “It was just a natural reaction from people in the department and in the rest of the county from people in other agencies.”
Clarke called support for LaBrie a “county-wide team effort” and said his co-workers’ willingness to donate time off will continue into next year if needed.
While LaBrie still is in critical condition as he awaits a donated liver, Matthews said, “Nick being Nick,” it didn’t take him long after waking to have everyone on his care team “cracking up.”
She said the high-flow nasal cannula his care team gave him “greatly annoyed him,” and upon being told the nurses now were his family members’ friends, he joked, “She’s your friend? So tell her to take this (nasal cannula) off.”
“He was, in fact, correct about the high-flow cannula,” Matthews wrote on the GoFundMe page, in a nod to LaBrie’s medical knowledge. “He said he didn’t need it, and he didn’t.”
Matthews said LaBrie’s family still is waiting “somewhat impatiently for a call any moment regarding a suitable liver.”
“(But) this turn of events caused a major sigh of relief among the medical team and his family, as we all had grown increasingly worried about his neurological status,” she wrote.
Matthews said LaBrie is “fighting hard” and their family “thanks (benefactors) from the bottom of our hearts” for the support and donations.
To donate to the LaBrie family, visit www.gofundme.com and search for “A paramedic’s own emergency: The LaBrie Family.”