Fostoria resident Marvin Ludwig, a U.S. Army veteran, was diagnosed with AL amyloidosis earlier this year. Exposure to chemicals during his military service as a mechanic is the likely cause of this blood disorder. An article online at www.veteranstoday.com says amyloidosis is common in veterans who have been exposed to dioxin.
Similar to leukemia, amyloidosis is a mutation in the bone marrow that causes the formation of abnormal proteins. The body cannot break down these insoluble proteins, so they deposit themselves on various body organs and interfere with organ function. In Ludwig's case, his heart, kidneys, digestive system, nerves and lungs have been affected.
Tricia Reinhard, Ludwig's daughter, is concerned about both her parents, because her mother already is disabled from fibromyalgia and a back injury some years ago. If her father is not able to do yard work and woodworking to earn a living, their income will be limited.
Marvin Ludwig (center) is pictured with his wife, Rose, and Marshall Reinhard, who is learning some of his grandfather’s mechanical skills.
Reinhard decided to launch a fundraiser for her parents.
"I am trying to raffle off my 1963 Mercury Comet S22, $50 a ticket, to try to help them financially right now, as well as in the future. There is a possibility he can get a stem cell transplant. If his body is healthy enough, he has the opportunity of possibly going to Nashville, Tenn., to get the transplant, which will extend his life," Reinhard said.
Ludwig has been receiving weekly chemotherapy in Ann Arbor. Amyloidosis is terminal, but a process has been developed to drain the blood from the body, cleanse it and freeze it. He would receive radiation and chemotherapy to destroy as many of the remaining protein deposits as possible. Then blood would be returned to his body with the stem cells, which would begin producing healthy proteins.
"It's going to wash his blood and make the disease start over again," Reinhard said.
She said her dad went to the veterans' hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., this past February for medical tests.
At first, his doctors blamed his low levels of protein on a poor diet. By June, he had to be hospitalized for two weeks. More tests indicated amyloidosis was causing his kidneys to filter out protein as a waste product instead of absorbing it as a nutrient. The proposed treatment would not cure Ludwig, but it would make him feel better until the diseased cells build up again, which is likely.
Ludwig would need to be hospitalized for about a month. Stem cells usually start producing healthy cells again over a period of 10 days to three weeks. Because the patient's own bone marrow is destroyed, he must remain in a sterile environment until new cells have been produced at sufficient levels to ensure his immunity, according to information at www.cancer.net/cancer-types/amyloidosis/treatment.
Reinhard said her father's expenses would be covered, but she and her mother want to be there with him. They must pay for their own lodging, food and transportation.
"We also want to take his dog, Shadow, because she has a big impact on him," Reinhard said.
Selling chances on the Comet seemed like an appropriate way to help Ludwig. Reinhard said her dad has done most of the restoration work on the car, which was in bad shape when they got it.
Now, its value is estimated at more than $21,000.
"There were only 5,800 of them made. That's amazing when it comes to cars. And it's a special edition, too. That's the most important part of it," Reinhard said.
She has distributed flyers and set up a Facebook page for raffle updates.
A few tickets have been sold at $50 each, and the raffle is to continue until Feb. 16. The drawing will be at The Cafe in Fostoria.
To purchase a ticket, call Reinhard at (419) 701-9805.